x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Crowd 'caught student's killer'

The doctor who tried to save Neda Agha Soltan seconds after she was hit by a bullet during a post-election protest in Tehran said she was shot in the chest from close range.

The doctor who tried to save Neda Agha Soltan seconds after she was hit by a bullet during a post-election protest in Tehran said she was shot in the chest from close range. Dr Arash Hejaz, an Iranian who has been studying in England, spoke to the BBC in London for the first time yesterday, risking his own life and chances of going back to Iran. Dr Hejaz said he was visiting Iran with his friends when they heard noises outside of their apartment. He said, after deciding to go out into the street, "suddenly everything turned crazy. The police threw tear gas and the motorcycles started rushing towards the crowd.

"We ran to an intersection and people were just standing. They didn't know what to do. We heard a gunshot. "Neda was standing one metre away from me. I turned back and I saw blood gushing out of Neda's chest. She was in a shocked situation, just looking at her chest. Then she lost her control. We ran to her and lay her on the ground. I saw the bullet wound just below the neck with blood gushing out."

Dr Hejaz tried to put pressure on the wound to stem the flow of blood, but it just exited from her eyes and nose. She died in less than one minute, according to Dr Hejaz. Video footage of the incident has been widely circulated on the internet, allowing the outside world a glimpse of the brutal clash between the demonstrators and the government. Dr Hejaz said there was no exit wound in her back, which indicates he said, she was intentionally shot in the chest. At first, he thought the shooter was on a rooftop, but a few of the demonstrators claimed they had caught the person who shot her.

"People shouted 'we got him, we got him'. They disarmed him and took out his identity card which showed he was a Basij member. People were furious and he was shouting, 'I didn't want to kill her.' "People didn't know what to do with him so they let him go. But they took his identity card. There are people there who know who he is. Some people were also taking photos of him." On his decision to come out with the story, Dr Hejaz said: "It was a tough decision to make to come out and talk about it but she died for a cause. She was fighting for basic rights ? I don't want her blood to have been shed in vain."

myoussef@thenational.ae