The Iranian government says it has fired one of its diplomats accused of molesting at least four girls aged between nine and 15 at a private swimming pool in the Brazilian capital of Brasilia last month.
The official, 51-year-old Hekmatollah Ghorbani, who is married with children and had been in his post for two years, attracted the fury of the girls’ parents when they discovered he had been groping their daughters, and was arrested.
He was quickly released after invoking diplomatic immunity and the Iranian embassy in Brasilia branded the incident “a cultural misunderstanding”, but he was later recalled to Tehran, the Agence France Presse reports.
“After an investigation into the violations by the Iranian employee of the Iranian embassy in Brazil, it was found his behavior was contrary to administrative regulations and Islamic conduct… thus he was dismissed,” Iran’s foreign ministry said in a statement Monday.
Speaking on Iranian state TV, foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said that while the Western media’s reporting of the alleged incident was being exploited for “political gain” against Iran, Ghorbani’s presence at a mixed-sex swimming pool was considered “a disciplinary violation” and he had been “summoned home at once,” according to the BBC.
Men and women of any age are not allowed to share a swimming pool under Iranian law, and several Iranian lawmakers have called on the diplomat to issue an apology.