Journalist’s son urges Germany to arrest Iranian ayatollah
Zahra Kazemi of Montreal was detained, tortured, killed by Shahroudi regime in 2003
MONTREAL— The son of deceased Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zara Kazemi wants German authorities to bring criminal charges against a senior Iranian cleric who is in the country for medical treatment, the Star has learned.
Acoalition of humanitarian organizations is collecting evidence of the alleged injustices overseen by Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi while he was head of the Iranian judiciary between 1999 and 2009, a span that includes the imprisonment, torture, rape and killing of Kazemi, a Montreal-based photojournalist, in July 2003.
Shahroudi is receiving medical treatment for a reported brain tumour at a hospital in Hanover, Ger- many — a fact that had been kept secret until it was revealed by Iranian exiles and confirmed by the German government this week.
“For over a decade, Shahroudi presided over widespread, systematic human rights abuses, of which the Kazemi case is just one instance,” said Payam Akhavan, a professor of international law at McGill University and a former United Nations prosecutor. “Thousands of political dissidents, journalists, bloggers, human rights lawyers have gone through the revolutionary justice system and ended up in the torture chambers or on the gallows, and all under the direction of Mr. Shahroudi as head of the judiciary.”
The hope is that Germany’s justice ministry will agree to charge Shahroudi with crimes against humanity.
Stephan Hashemi, Kazemi’s son, told the Star on Tuesday that he has written to the German government expressing his desire to see charges laid and offering his assistance to prosecutors should it be required.
He has also urged Canadian authorities to intervene.
“My mother was unlawfully detained, brutally interrogated, tortured and killed by the Iranian regime. None of the individuals responsible for these unforgivable crimes have ever been held to account,” he said in a statement.
“This is an important first step toward a certain justice for my mother and for the overwhelming number of other individuals who were tortured, raped and killed by this regime.”
A spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada could not comment on the government’s involvement in, or support of, the initiative.