Kazemi’s son seeks justice in Canadian court
A Quebec Superior Court judge began deliberations Monday on a lawsuit filed by the son of Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi against the Iranian government.
Hashemi launched the civil suit in 2006 against the Iranian government, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Saeed Mortazavi, Iran's prosecutor general, and Mohammad Bakhshi, a prison official, after the Iranian courts failed to convict anyone of the crime.
Kazemi was arrested in Iran on June 23, 2003, while covering a protest outside Evin prison in Tehran. She died in captivity less than a month later. Iranian authorities reported her death as accidental, but the attending physician reported Kazemi showed signs of torture, severe beating, head trauma and rape before her death.
The Iranian government must be held responsible for Kazemi’s death, said Hashemi.
"My life has changed really since my mothers death," said Hashemi. "This is always on my mind, my mother's torturing — especially the injustice."
The fact that the final hearing took place on International Women’s Day holds special significance, said Hashemi.
"She is still alive," he said. "And she represents I think all of us who are repressed and who are victims of this regime."
Governments granted immunity
The case has also placed Canadian government lawyers in the awkward position of having to defend Iran’s immunity.
But lawyers for Hashemi, the Canadian Centre for International Justice and Amnesty International Canada argued the case must be allowed to go forward in the interest of justice.
"When acts of torture are being cloaked with immunity, that is simply wrong," said Hashemi’s lawyer, Kurt Johnson. "It amounts to impunity."
Should Hashemi succeed, the case would set an international precedent and send a powerful message that Canada "will not recognize the immunity of states who commit torture," said Amnesty International lawyer Francois Larocque.
The judge is expected to take several weeks to issue his ruling — and should he side with Hashemi, the case is expected to be appealed.