Iran has summoned home Hekmatollah Ghorbani, its third-ranking diplomat in Brazil, after allegations that he fondled underage girls in a swimming pool at a sports club, AFP reports.
Ramin Mehmanparast, a spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, told reporters Tuesday that the diplomat “will be dealt with according to the foreign ministry’s disciplinary rules.”
According to AFP, the Brazilian media has reported that Ghorbani is accused of groping at least four girls between the ages of nine and 15 in the incident, which occurred in mid-April.
“People wanted to kill him,” a father of one of the girls told the new website G1.
Brazilian police arrested Ghorbani but he was released under diplomatic immunity. The Iranian embassy in Brasilia defended Ghorbani in a statement calling the incident a “cultural misunderstanding,” a comment which Mehmanparast was asked about Tuesday.
“On principle, we do not accept this person being at a mixed-sex swimming pool, and it is considered a disciplinary violation and therefore he was summoned home at once and we are reviewing his case,” Mehmanparast replied.
Mehmanparast also said the incident was being twisted by some Western and Arab media “for political gain” against Iran.
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Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com