AFP: Canadian Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew on Tuesday telephoned his Iranian counterpart to demand the return of the remains of photojournalist Zahra Kazemi who died in Iranian custody. "This morning, I phoned the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran," Pettigrew told the House of Commons, a day after lambasting Tehran over its denial that the 54-year-old dual Iranian-Canadian citizen had been tortured and murdered. AFP

OTTAWA - Canadian Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew on Tuesday telephoned his Iranian counterpart to demand the return of the remains of photojournalist Zahra Kazemi who died in Iranian custody.

"This morning, I phoned the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran," Pettigrew told the House of Commons, a day after lambasting Tehran over its denial that the 54-year-old dual Iranian-Canadian citizen had been tortured and murdered.

Pettigrew said he told Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi that Iran should return the remains and permit an independent autopsy on Kazemi, who died in July 2003.

Kazemi died after being jailed for taking pictures outside an Iranian prison. Tehran denies she was murdered, claiming she died when she fainted and hit her head.

But a dramatic account of Khazemi's alleged torture and rape was given here last week by former Iranian military doctor Shahram Azam, who has been granted refugee status in Canada.

Pettigrew on Monday said that Iran's position was "unacceptable."

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

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

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