A BRIEF CHRONOLOGY
June 23: Zahra Kazemi is arrested outside Evin prison in Tehran where she was taking photographs of the families of imprisoned student protesters. She is taken into custody in the same prison and subjected to brutal interrogation, torture and sexual assault.
June 27: Kazemi is moved to a hospital in Tehran.
July 3: Iranian offi cials tell Kazemi’s family that she has been taken to a hospital.
July 11: Kazemi dies in the hospital.
July 13: Iran announces that Kazemi “suff ered a stroke when she was subject to interrogation and died in hospital.” The same day, under pressure from Canada, Iran’s president, Mohammad Khatami, orders an investigation into her death.
July 20: Iran admits that Kazemi died from a fractured skull caused by “a physical attack.” July 21: Canadian foreign aff airs minister Bill Graham says what happened to Kazemi “was a flagrant violation of her rights under international human rights law and a breach of obligations that Iran owes to the international community.”
July 28: An Iranian court rules Kazemi’s fatal head injuries were accidental, the result of fainting because she refused to eat.
March 31: Following his escape from Iran in 2004, Shahram Azam, a former military physician, says he examined Kazemi four days after her arrest. He says she showed marks of having been tortured. There were signs of rape, skull fracture, broken fi ngers and torn fi ngernails, abdominal bruising and beaten feet, he says. Azam was granted landed immigrant status in Canada as a refugee.
Kazemi’s son, Stephan Hashemi, fi les a civil lawsuit in Montreal’s Superior Court against the government of Iran, Iran’s leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Saeed Mortazavi, Tehran’s chief prosecutor, and Mohammad Bakhshi, former deputy chief of intelligence for Evin prison. Iran argues the case should be dismissed under Canada’s State Immunity Act. The law generally provides immunity to foreign governments.
Quebec’s Superior Court rejects the claims made by Zahra Kazemi’s estate, ruling that because she suff ered injuries only outside Canada, no claim for compensation could be made in Canada. On the other hand, because Hashemi suffered nervous shock in Canada because of mistreatment of a family member, his claim was allowed to stand.
The Quebec Court of Appeal rules that the defendants, including Iran and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, are immune under Canada’s State Immunity Act, even in cases of torture. It also rejects Hashemi’s personal claim, saying the exceptions in the State Immunity Act do not apply in his case.
The Supreme Court of Canada announces it will hear Hashemi’s appeal of the ruling by the Quebec Court of Appeal.