Iranian Secret Agent Charged in Canadian Journalist's Death

A judge charged an Intelligence Ministry agent in the killing of an Iranian-Canadian photojournalist who died while in custody, Tehran prosecutor's office said Monday.

Veteran judge Javad Esmaeili (search), who has been heading an independent inquiry into the July 10 death of Zahra Kazemi (search), charged the agent with "semi pre-meditated murder." There was no immediate explanation of the charge.

The agent was one of two Intelligence Ministry officials charged earlier over Kazemi's death. But the prosecutor's office rejected the charges Sept. 1 and called for further investigations.

The second agent linked to Kazemi's death was acquitted, according to a statement released Monday by the prosecutor's office.

"The crime is attributed to one of the [Intelligence Ministry] interrogators and the reasons have been presented in the law suit against the accused ," according to the statement issued by the prosecutor's office that detailing the charges laid down by the judge.

The statement said the judge, Esmaeili, concluded that no government body was behind the crime.

Initially, the hard-line Tehran prosecutor, Saeed Mortazavi, was quoted as saying Kazemi had died of a stroke. But a presidential-appointed committee discredited this version and found that she had died of head injuries sustained while in custody.

Canada has complained to Iran over the earlier handling of Kazemi's case, threatened sanctions and withdrew its ambassador after the photojournalist's body was buried in her birthplace, the southern Iranian city of Shiraz (search), against the wishes of Canadian authorities and her son, who lives in Montreal.