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Key witness disputes Hejazi account of Neda death

More than a month after Neda Aqa-Soltan was killed in the post-election frenzy in Iran, a key witness to the incident moves to set the record straight.

Neda, 26, was shot dead on June 20 in an alley away from the scene of clashes between security forces and demonstrators in Tehran.

She immediately became an international icon after graphic videos of her bleeding to death in a matter of seconds, grabbed the attention of world media outlets.

Hamid Panahi, Neda's friend and music teacher who was by her side in her final moments, dismissed the slew of eyewitness accounts of the sad incident -- particularly the one given by Arash Hejazi.

Arash Hejazi, an Iranian physician currently studying in England, told the BBC that he had witnessed a member of the Basij shooting Neda.

His comments were a contributing factor in the Western-led media campaign against the Ahmadinejad government.

Panahi said contrary to Hejazi's account of the incident, 'there were no security forces of Basij members nearby'.

“In his interviews with foreign media outlets, Mr. Hejazi said that the culprit behind Neda's death was arrested on the spot. I saw nothing of the sort. There were only about a dozen people present at the scene. No one was arrested,” he said.

To prove his point, Panahi said that new revelations have found that Neda was in fact shot not in the chest, but in the back.

Panahi is not the first to dismiss Hejazi's account of Neda's death. Earlier in June, the man who drove Neda to hospital had also said that there were no Basij members around at the time.

Iranian security forces have dismissed the reports out of hand, asserting that they did not open fire on protestors during the sporadic unrest.

While Media outlets in the West blame Neda's death on Iranian security forces, new revelations show that she was murdered by a small caliber pistol-- a weapon that is not used by Iranian security forces.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has asked Judiciary chief Ayatollah Hashemi-Shahroudi to conduct a through investigation into the incident.



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