Iran’s shot heard ’round the world

July 10th, 2009
Published in The San Francisco Examiner July 10, 2009

Death came quickly for 27-year old Iranian student Neda Agha-Soltan, shot by a gunman as she innocently marched in a demonstration against the mullah regime in Tehran on June 20th.

Iranian government officials, allegedly, have investigated the crime. While the chilling video of her last moments reveals a cowardly act committed by her killer, one of the benefits of a theocracy is that solving such a crime is much easier to do when evidence need not be found–only created. Clearly, police investigators were given artistic license in this case to create evidence pointing away from Tehran’s brutal regime.

The government-run Islamic Republic News Network reported the bullet that killed Neda was “unique”–code for “foreign involvement.” It also said the fact people just happened to be filming the spot where Neda was walking before being shot suggests they must have known an “event” was about to happen.

Since the government has repeatedly claimed demonstrations taking place in Iran are not the result of domestic discord but foreign-influence, i.e., by England or the U.S., this creative cover story follows the mullahs’ party line. But the government’s “evidence” raises some questions.

To identify the bullet as “unique” required recovery of either the round from Neda’s body or of the ejected casing at the location where the sniper was when he fired.

As to the round, there is no indication an autopsy was performed. Most likely, one was not, for autopsies are impermissible under Islamic law. Therefore, the “unique” identification of the bullet based on its recovery from her body probably did not happen.

As to the casing, in reviewing the film footage of the shooting, it is extremely difficult to tell from where the gunman fired. This would not be impossible to determine by reconstructing the murder scene.

But, it would require experienced forensics investigators conducting detailed calculations to ascertain the round’s angle of entry into the body based on point of impact. Such calculations were not performed in the case of Neda’s murder.

No effort was immediately made to rope it off to preserve evidence. If the angle back to the shooter’s position cannot be determined, an investigator cannot do the necessary plotting to identify the round’s trajectory and the shooter’s most likely location. And, it appears no search to recover the casing was initiated at the time of the murder.

How then was a determination made the bullet was “unique?” Furthermore, had it, in fact been, as Tehran suggests, a foreign shooter, he would not have been so foolish as to use a uniquely distinctive weapon or to have failed to remove the ejected casing. The scenario proffered by Iranian government officials is, like so much of what comes out of Tehran, absolutely ludicrous.

This is especially true based on eyewitness accounts. Times Online reports Arash Hejazi, 38, was only three feet away from Neda when she was shot. He said demonstrators immediately caught the shooter, a member of the paramilitary Basij, who had fired from his motorcycle.  Grabbed by protestors, the gunmen shouted, “I didn’t want to kill her. I meant to shoot her in the leg.” Realizing the futility of turning him over to authorities, demonstrators had to let him go–although the killer’s identity tag was taken.

The video of the murder of Neda Agha-Soltan has circled the globe. It is the “shot heard ’round the world.” There should be an international outcry for the results of her murder investigation to be made public.

Unfortunately, that will never happen. For release of the real evidence in Neda’s death would reveal the truth–that her death was a government-sanctioned execution.

VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED – The following video shows graphic violence and an actual fatality:

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