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Iran sacks diplomat after Brazil groping scandal

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Iran’s foreign ministry said on Monday it has sacked one of its diplomats who allegedly fondled underage girls in a swimming pool in Brazil, where he was stationed before being recalled.

“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,” the ministry said in a statement.

Brazilian media identified the diplomat as Hekmatollah Ghorbani, 51, and reported that he groped at least four Brazilian girls aged between nine and 15 in a Brasilia pool last month, making them cry and attracting the fury of their parents.

He was arrested but quickly released when Brazilian police verified his diplomatic immunity.

Iran’s embassy in Brasilia had initially defended the diplomat by issuing a statement claiming the groping allegations were the result of a “cultural misunderstanding”.

But foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast subsequently said the diplomat had been recalled and would be “dealt with”, even though he also asserted that the incident was being twisted by Western and Arab media.

In Iran, men and women of any age are not permitted to share swimming pools. Iranian officials and representatives are expected to follow Islamic rules while abroad.