An Iranian diplomat is facing child abuse allegations in Brasilia after angry parents at a local swimming pool accused him of fondling girls between the ages of 9 and 15.
The diplomat was arrested by Brazilian police at the weekend shortly after the incident but his diplomatic immunity secured his immediate release.
The diplomat who has remained unnamed by the police rejected the accusations. The swimming pool officials, however, named him Hekmatollah Ghorbani, according to a press report. It is unclear whether he has left Brazil.
The Brazilian foreign minister, Antonio Patriota, reacted to the news by describing the allegations as “unacceptable” and “very disturbing”.
“These are allegations that we consider very disturbing, and I personally consider it unacceptable if a Brazilian diplomat behave this way in any country,” the minister said at a news conference, according to the translation of a report published on folha.com.
The Iranian embassy in Brazil rebutted the accusations, saying: “The accusation leveled against the Iranian diplomat is only a misunderstanding arising from differences in cultural attitudes.”
Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman said on Thursday that the allegations were “unfounded” and “untrue”, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.
As the incident came into light, it tirggered a row on Twitter, with many Iranian users sharing news about the diplomat. One user said:
Iran diplomat in Brazil scandal – the funny part is “cultural miss-understanding” bbc.co.uk/news/world-lat…
— Fatima Alkaabi (@FatimAlkaabi) April 20, 2012
Another user said:
Iran diplomat in Brazil scandal: Brazil says it will ask Iran for an explanation after an Iranian diplomat was a… bit.ly/JbRhDa
— Peter Tork (@huffingtontimes) April 20, 2012
And a user predicted more consequences:
— selmo (@bobpulga) April 18, 2012
• Follow me on Twitter: @SaeedKD
[Iranian flag photo via Paul Cowan / Shutterstock]