A Tehran court acquitted an intelligence agent charged in the killing of a Canadian journalist, the attorney representing the victim's mother said Saturday.
Shirin Ebadi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who is the chief attorney for the mother of slain photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, said the legal proceedings were flawed.
"I'm required to work until my last breath to make sure that justice is done to my client," Ebadi said. "I'll protest this verdict. If the appeals court and other legal stages fail to heed our objections, we will use all domestic and international facilities to meet the legal rights of my client."
Kazemi, a Canadian freelance journalist of Iranian origin, died July 10, 2003, while in detention for taking photographs outside a prison in Tehran during student-led protests against the ruling theocracy. Iranian authorities initially said Kazemi died of a stroke, but a presidential committee later found she died of a fractured skull and brain hemorrhage.
The agent charged with killing Kazemi, Mohammad Reza Aghdam Ahmadi, pleaded not guilty on July 17. The trial was abruptly ended the next day.
Ebadi, who leads a four-member legal team, accused the court of deliberately failing to carry out justice. Earlier, she had accused prison official Mohammad Bakhshi of inflicting the fatal blow to Kazemi and the conservative judiciary of illegally detaining her.
"If the court had summoned the people we named during the trial for explanation, it could have accurately identified the people who committed the murder," she said.
Ebadi refused to sign the bill of indictment, which implicated Ahmadi and cleared Bakhshi of any wrongdoing. She demanded that the court summon several top officials, including hard-line Tehran Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi, to explain Kazemi's death.
Ebadi said filing a case against Bakhshi was still an option before she would take the case to international organizations.
Ebadi said the court also ruled that Kazemi's blood money will be paid from public, or government, funds. Blood money is the compensation an Islamic court orders a convicted attacker to pay to the victim or the victim's relatives. In Kazemi's case, the money has to be paid from public funds since no killer has been identified.
The average compensation paid to relatives of a Muslim man killed is about $18,750. The payment is about half that if the victim was Christian, Jewish, Zoroastrian or a woman, regardless of her religion.
The Canadian government has blamed Mortazavi for the death, and reformists have accused him of a coverup.
Last week, journalists complained that Mortazavi, the prosecutor, had told them not to report on parts of the trial.