Canada warns ties with Iran may suffer over issue of dead journalist
Canada toughened its position Tuesday on the death of a Canadian journalist in Iran, demanding repatriation of the body and warning diplomatic relations could suffer unless Tehran was more frank on the cause of her death.
IRNA news agency reported Tuesday that a coroner in Iran had completed an autopsy on Zahra Kazemi, 54, an Iranian-Canadian journalist who died after she was arrested by authorities last month.
The report did not disclose the autopsy findings, saying they had been passed to a government panel investigating the death, which in turn has ordered that the body not be buried until the investigation has been completed.
"Until the cause of her death is not officially announced, her burial is not possible," IRNA reported.
Kazemi died while in detention for taking photos of protesters outside the Evin prison in northern Tehran. She had been arrested on June 23, and transferred three days later to Baghiatollah Azam hospital where a "stroke" caused her death on Friday.
Iranian authorities say Kazemi fell ill while intelligence ministry agents were questioning her.
Kazemi's son, Stephan Hachemi, 26, claims his grandmother - the mother of the victim, who lives in Iran - was forced to sign papers authorizing burial of his mother's body in Shiraz, in southern Iran, according to AFP.
Hachemi contends that she was tortured and beaten to death while in police custody, and is demanding that her body be returned to Canada for an independent autopsy.
"It's a serious issue and it will be put in that context with the Iranian authorities," Deputy Prime Minister John Manley said.
"This will be a setback if we can't resolve it. We believe the family, of course, deserves a full explanation for what happened. The body should be returned." (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)