Iran still investigating Canadian's death-official


TEHRAN, July 17 (Reuters) - A suggestion that a Canadian journalist was beaten to death was sheer speculation and Iran was still investigating the cause of the brain haemorrhage that killed her, a senior Tehran government source said on Thursday.

A presidential commission is looking into the death in custody last week of Zahra Kazemi, 54, a Canadian of Iranian descent.

"The death was caused by a brain haemorrhage, but what the cause of that was, and how it happened, should be announced by the commission and any other comment is sheer speculation," the official told Reuters, declining to be identified.

The comment appeared to roll back Vice-President Mohammad Ali Abtahi's statement to journalists a day earlier that a Health Ministry report had determined Kazemi's brain haemorrhage was caused by "beatings."

Abtahi could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday but another government source said his remarks had caused concern among colleagues who felt he had given the wrong impression of the government's certainty about the cause of Kazemi's death.

Canada said on Wednesday Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi had informed it Kazemi died from a skull fracture behind her left eye, but that it was too early to determine the exact circumstances of her death.

Canadian Foreign Minister Bill Graham told reporters Kharrazi had informed him Kazemi's injury could have been caused by a fall or accident, and that the full results of the investigation would be known in a couple of days.

Kazemi's death has cast a spotlight on Iran's shadowy security services and treatment of the media. It has also marred previously harmonious relations between Iran and Canada, which wants her body returned to her adoptive country.

President Mohammad Khatami ordered four ministers on Sunday to investigate the death of Kazemi, who was arrested last month while trying to take photographs outside Tehran's Evin prison, where many political dissidents are held.

Iran has pledged to bring to justice those responsible for her death.

"The (presidential) commission should give its opinion to the president and after that the commission will definitely announce the results to the public," the official said.