Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham said Tuesday that he has assured the son of a Canadian photojournalist that the federal government is doing everything it can to bring those responsible for the death of Zahra Kazemi to justice.
Mr. Graham met with Ms. Kazemi's son, Stephan Hachemi, in Toronto Tuesday morning, along with Mr. Hachemi's lawyer and Philip MacKinnon, Canada's ambassador to Iran.
"I gave the assurance to Mr. Hachemi that the Canadian government will do everything it can to pursue this case and obtain a successful result," Mr. Graham said.
Mr. Graham said Canada is still unable to confirm the identity of the five security agents arrested in Iran in connection with Ms. Kazemi's death.
"The Foreign Ministry told me [that]of the people arrested, some were prison officials and some were intelligence officials," Mr. Graham said. Iran's Foreign Minister, Kamal Kharrazi, told Mr. Graham that he will provide more information from Iran "as the legal procedures develop."
Mr. Hachemi has dismissed the reports, from state-run Tehran Radio, telling the Montreal Gazette on Sunday that the news was merely a "diversion" to throw the Canadian government off track.
Mr. Graham said he still hopes a transparent investigation is possible. On the weekend, Iran's chief judge assigned the investigation into Ms. Kazemi's death to Javad Esmaeili, described as a veteran judge.
"We are advised he had some success in previous cases of disappearing journalists in Iran," Mr. Graham said Tuesday.
Mr. Hachemi and his Toronto lawyer, Marlys Edwardh, have asked Ottawa to charge Tehran's chief prosecutor, Saeed Mortazavi, under the Criminal Code with engaging in "terrorist activity" outside Canada in relation to a Canadian citizen.
"It would seem clear that his conduct was in whole or in part for political, religious, or ideological purposes, etc., to intimidate a segment of the public with regard to its security," they say in a letter to Mr. Graham.
Mr. Graham said Monday he does not rule out going after Mr. Mortazavi, who is alleged to have personally beaten Ms. Kazemi.
Mr. Mortazavi is responsible for regular crackdowns on independent journalists and was present for at least part of Ms. Kazemi's harsh interrogation.
Ms. Kazemi, 54, a freelance photojournalist based in Montreal, was arrested by Iranian security on June 23 while taking pictures outside Evin prison north of Tehran. An official report issued by the Iranian government found that, during an interrogation that lasted several days, she received a blow that caused her to suffer a fatal brain hemorrhage.
Her son, Mr. Hachemi, who lives in Montreal, has been pushing for the return of her body. She was buried last Wednesday in her home town of Shiraz, 900 kilometres south of Tehran.
Mr. Hachemi's lawyer said they want to know more about circumstances surrounding his mother's beating death on July 10.
"We hope to get a better understanding of what happened on the ground from the ambassador's perspective," Ms. Edwardh said.
Mr. Hachemi and Ms. Edwardh have also asked the government to consider imposing trade sanctions against Iran and to use the International Criminal Court to ensure that Ms. Kazemi's body is brought back to Canada.
Mr. Graham did not respond to journalists' questions at the end of the scrum about whether Canada would impose further sanctions on Iran. He said he had no immediate plans to visit Iran to speak with Iranian officials.
With reports from Estanislao Oziewicz and Canadian Press