Photojournalist’s son sues Iran for mother’s death

Canadian Stephen Hachemi is trying to sue the Iranian government for the arrest, torture and death of his mother, photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, BBC News reports.

Hachemi is suing Iran’s government for $17 million, but Iran argues that Canada’s State Immunity Act protects foreign governments in Canada.

On Dec. 3 in a Montreal court, the Canadian government attempted to have the case thrown out based on the Act, The Globe and Mail reports.

According to the Globe report:

“Mr. Hashemi’s lawyers are trying a new tactic, attempting to strike down the law on the grounds that it contravenes their client’s right to a fair hearing under Canada’s Bill of Rights and guarantee in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms of life, liberty and security.”

CBC News explains what happened to Hachemi’s mother:

“Kazemi, 54, was arrested outside a Tehran prison in June 2003, as
she was photographing relatives of detainees who were holding vigil
outside the detention centre.

“The Montreal resident was never formally charged with a crime. She
died in prison less than a month after her arrest. Iranian authorities
reported her death was accidental and caused by a stroke. But other
reports suggested Kazemi showed physical signs of torture, severe
beating, head trauma and rape prior to her death.”

Maher Arar and Houshang Bouzari have both tried to sue foreign governments for torture in the past. Both failed when courts ruled they didn’t have the right to sue under the State Immunity Act.