AFP: Canada on Monday said new allegations about the violent death of Iranian-Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi in detention in Tehran, disproved the Islamic Republic's denials that she was murdered. Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew said that Canada had helped Iranian doctor Shahram Azam, who last week claimed Kazemi was tortured and raped, obtain asylum here to debunk Iranian government claims on the case. AFP

OTTAWA - Canada on Monday said new allegations about the violent death of Iranian-Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi in detention in Tehran, disproved the Islamic Republic's denials that she was murdered.

Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew said that Canada had helped Iranian doctor Shahram Azam, who last week claimed Kazemi was tortured and raped, obtain asylum here to debunk Iranian government claims on the case.

"Iran's position is unacceptable," Pettigrew told the House of Commons.

"Iran is in the wrong, it was murder, and that is why we brought the doctor here, to clearly show the facts."

"We have been saying for two years what Doctor Azam has just said, and if we helped him to come to Canada, it was to show the world that Canada deserves support in its crusade against Iran's disrespect for human rights."

Iranian authorities have consistently argued that Kazemi died after a fall in jail and was not murdered.

Azam last week held a press conference to provide what he said were details of Kazemi's condition, gleaned while he was a major in the Iranian army and working in an emergency room at a Tehran military hospital.

The photojournalist was unconscious when she was brought into hospital and had injuries consistent with torture, including broken fingers, evidence of rape, missing fingers and genital damage, he said.

Iran hit back on Saturday, branding the charges "baseless and completely false" and denied that anyone named Shahram Azam ever worked in the hospital.

Kazemi, 54, was arrested taking photos of a demonstration in front of a prison in north Tehran. The photographer, who had Iranian-Canadian dual nationality, died in detention ten days later in July 2003, victim of a cerebral haemorrhage.

Iran acknowledged that Kazemi had been beaten violently in prison, but last year, the only suspect -- an intelligence agent -- was discharged and authorities have classified the case as an accident.

Iran's stance on the Kazemi case has severely damaged ties between Ottawa and Tehran.

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