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CNN report: Motive for Iranian student's killing still a mystery (video)

Apr 9, 2012

By Drew Griffin and David Fitzpatrick, CNN Special Investigations Unit (story link here):

Houston (CNN) -- Homicide detectives here say they are exploring every possible avenue, as they investigate the assassination-style killing of an Iranian dissident in mid-January.

Gelareh Bagherzadeh, 30, was shot and killed on January 15 as she drove her father's car home just before midnight. She was studying molecular genetic technology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

"The evidence indicated that she had been shot through the passenger side window," Houston Police Sgt. J.C. Padilla said. "She was shot one time, and an autopsy revealed she had been shot in the head."

Bagherzadeh had come to Houston in 2007, her friends said. Before her arrival, they say, she had traveled throughout Europe, living in Paris and, for a time, in Budapest.

Her father had once worked for the Iranian Oil ministry, according to police.

In 2010, not long after the disputed presidential elections in Iran, Bagherzadeh joined a group called SabzHouston, formed to protest the election results. She was videotaped by a reporter for the Houston Chronicle while on a street corner, saying she was showing support for "brothers and sisters suffering in Iran."

"That's why we gather here," she said in the taped account, "to be their voice here and show them we are together, and they are not alone."

She wasn't scared to show her face, but she said she wouldn't give her last name to reporters for fear of retaliation.

Police investigating her killing have found no one who would have wanted to kill Bagherzadeh. With nothing stolen or missing, they've ruled out a random robbery. Police said they are looking into whether her involvement with the protest movement had anything to do with her killing.

"Right now ... because of obvious reasons, we're exploring those issues that she was advocating," Padilla said.

Houston police on Monday announced they have doubled the reward from $5,000 to $10,000 for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for Bagherzadeh's death.

Complete story here.

Related Story:
Family of slain Iranian activist pleads for help in investigation


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