[JURIST] Iran has received nearly universal condemnation for selecting Tehran Prosecutor-General Saeed Mortazavi [Wikipedia profile] to attend the inaugural meeting of the UN Human Rights Council [official website] in Geneva as an observer. Mortazavi is widely suspected of being present in July 2003 when Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi [CBC backgrounder] died from a blow to her head while in Mortazai's custody, and of orchestrating a cover-up of the incident. The Iran government has admitted that Kazemi was abused while in custody after taking pictures of a demonstration in Tehran. An Iranian intelligence agent was charged with Kazemi's murder but was acquitted. Last year, an Iranian appeals court upheld the not guilty verdict [JURIST report], but also ordered the case reopened, due to the possibility that others were involved in Kazemi's death.
Canadian Foreign Minister Peter Mackay condemned the Iran government [press release] for sending Mortazavi to the meeting, saying that his presence "in Iran's delegation demonstrates the Government of Iran's complete contempt for internationally recognized principles of human rights." Human Rights Watch similarly criticized Iran for selecting Mortazavi as delegate [press release], accusing Mortazavi of leading a massive government crackdown on dissent in 2000 by ordering the closure of over 100 newspapers and journals as a judge in the Public Court Branch. AFP has more.