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Iran Says Canadian Journalist Died from Beatings - 2003-07-16

A Canadian journalist, taken into custody in Iran last month, has been beaten to death. That's what a high-ranking Iranian government official told reporters Wednesday.

Iranian Vice president Mohammad Ali Abtahi told reporters in Tehran that the journalist, Zahra Kazemi, died as a result of a brain hemorrhage caused by beatings she received either during or after her arrest last month outside a prison in Tehran.

Earlier, Iranian officials had said she had died from a stroke.

Ms. Kazemi, who is of Iranian descent, was taken into custody June 23 while taking pictures of a protest outside Tehran's Evin prison, where many Iranian dissidents are jailed.

Three days later, she was taken to a hospital in Tehran and last Friday she died.

On Sunday, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami ordered an investigation into Ms. Kazemi's death.

Wednesday, the vice president said there has been what he called a probable violation, and if the investigation proves that, the names of those who are responsible will be presented to a court.

Mr. Abtahi said the death of Zahra Kazemi creates a very black picture of Iran in the world.

The Iranian News Agency reports that as a result of the incident, President Khatami ordered his ministers of justice and intelligence to review their procedures regarding journalists in Iran.

Canadian officials and Ms. Kazemi's son have been demanding that her body be returned to Canada. Iranian authorities have refused, saying that because Ms. Kazemi also held Iranian citizenship, Iranian laws must apply.