IRI vs. Ziba Kazemi

What a day! On march 8, 2010, on the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, we were at Montreal’s courthouse for the last day of trial for Ziba Kazemi’s case against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Trial started at 9:15 AM and ended at 12:15 PM. The courtroom was packet with supporters, many of which were standing in the room while others were waiting outside. A majority of the audience, including Stephan Kazemi, were wearing unified black T-shirts with Ziba kazemi’s portrait printed in front with the phrase “She is still alive” under it. Stephan told reporters; “she represents all of us who are repressed and who are victims of this regime.”

Trial started with arguments from the defense for the Iranian government followed by those of the Canadian government! Both legal teams, Iran’s and Canada’s, were trying to point out Stephan’s lawsuit is against Canada’s State Immunity Act and for that he is not allowed to sue Iran in Canada.

Both Iran and Canada’s lawyers argued; what happened to Ms. Kazemi was inside Iran’s territory and under the Iranian law. What Mortazavi or Mohamad Bakhshi did to Ziba Kazemi was part of their job; thus giving them immunity as government officials!

Montreal lawyer James Woods (Iranian government lawyer) said; “Iran and its leader could not be sued and that immunity extends to civil servants and government employees such as Mortazavi and Bakhshi, who were acting on behalf of the state, for that they have to benefit from the State Immunity Act.”

On Stephan Kazemi’s side, his lawyers, the Canadian Centre for International Justice and Amnesty International Canada argued the lawsuit against Iran must be allowed to go forward in Canada in the interest of justice.

All four lawyers from Stephan’s side pointed out many interesting and intelligent argument against the Iranian and Canadian government’s lawyers.

* Kurt Johnson and Matieu Bouchared, Stephan kazemi’s Lawyers argued the case should proceed in Canada because it would be impossible to get a fair trial in Iran.

“When acts of torture are being cloaked with immunity, that is simply wrong,” said lawyer Kurt Johnson.

Stephan ‘s Lawyer emphasized: “We’re arguing on a number of grounds, but basically for a general exception in cases of torture, there shouldn’t be immunity because it amounts to impunity in that case.”

Quebec Superior Court Justice Robert Mongeon ended the trial mentioning that he realizes the importance of this case and for that he point out his decision will take quite a bit of time because of all the documentation and the complexity of the case.

Judge Robert Mongeon now must decide whether Iran and its officials should benefit from immunity from civil prosecution.

I have to mention that Judge Mongeon was amazingly supportive of the case all thought the trial. We all have great hope that the verdict will be in favor of Stephan Kazemi, in our favor.

But let’s not forget what ever the verdict will be, until now we can and must celebrate a great victory; Because, it is only with this case that the Iranian government has been forced to hire lawyers and defend itself in front of a court.

They will not force us_
They will stop degrading us_
They will not control us_
We will be victorious

March 9, 2010

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