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Iranian diplomat leaves Brazil amid sexual abuse allegations

From Marilia Brocchetto, CNN
updated 6:43 AM EDT, Wed April 25, 2012
The diplomat is understood to have worked at Iran's Embassy in the Brazilian capital, Brasilia.
The diplomat is understood to have worked at Iran's Embassy in the Brazilian capital, Brasilia.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Allegations were originally chalked up to cultural differences.
  • The alleged sexual assaults took place at a swimming pool
  • The children are ages 9-14
  • Iran has been trying to strengthen relations in Latin America

(CNN) -- Iran has recalled a diplomat from Brazil amid allegations he sexually abused children at a swimming pool, state media in Brazil reported.

The case will be "seriously considered," Ramin Mehmanparast, a spokesman for the Iranian foreign affairs ministry, said Tuesday, according to Agencia Brasil.

The 51-year-old diplomat allegedly fondled the genitals of boys and girls -- ages 9 to 14 -- on April 14 at Neighborhood Social Club No. 1 in the capital, Brasilia, the news agency said.

It was not immediately known in what capacity the man worked at the Iranian embassy in Brazil.

As the children reported the alleged sexual assaults that took place during a birthday party, angry parents confronted the diplomat, with at least one parent assaulting him, CNN affiliate G1 reported.

"When the staff discovered it was a case of pedophilia they wanted to kill him," the father of a 14-year-old girl said, according to G1. "If the club had not deployed those security guards, today you would be interviewing me to speak of a murder or lynching."

The alleged events were reported to a local military police station, which responded to the scene, a statement from the social club said.

The diplomat had been a member of the club for about a year at the time of the alleged assaults. His membership has since been suspended, the social club said.

Iran's promise to investigate the allegations is a change in position after initially calling the incident a "misunderstanding arising from differences in cultural behavior" and a result of media bias, a statement from the Iranian embassy in Brazil said.

At the time, Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota pressed Iran for additional information.

"We would like a clarification from the embassy regarding the very worrying accusations," Patriota said, according to Agencia Brasil. "We hope to get to the bottom of the facts and from there decide what measure to take."

Iran and Brazil have enjoyed largely amicable relations for more than a century.

Iran also has worked to strengthen ties with Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Cuba. It has opened six embassies in the region since 2005.

CNN's Marilia Brocchetto and Shasta Darlington contributed to this report

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