Minister sacked over bogus Oxford degree
IRAN'S president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, suffered a blow yesterday when his interior minister, Ali Kordan, was sacked by parliament after confessing his cherished law degree from Oxford University was a forgery.
The president has portrayed himself as a champion against corruption but he stood by Mr Kordan as the scandal intensified, insisting his minister was a "victim" who had devoted 30 years of service to the Islamic republic and should not be judged on one "piece of torn paper".
Mr Ahmadinejad refused to attend yesterday's embarrassing proceedings, declaring the move to impeach was illegal because Mr Kordan had committed no wrong-doing during his three months in office.
But parliamentarians behind the motion countered that an interior minister should be seen as incorruptible: he oversees domestic security as well as organising elections, such as next year's presidential vote.
Ebrahim Nekuman, one of the MPs, said: "A person who has to be entrusted with the country's security has mocked parliament's trust."
Mr Kordan was defeated by a large majority. Of the 247 deputies present in parliament, 188 voted against him. Only 45 backed him, while 14 abstained.
Despite its political ramifications, the Kordan row descended into farce last week, with stormy scenes in parliament. Several deputies complained a senior presidential aide had offered them $5,000 (3,000) – ostensibly to benefit mosques in their districts – if they voted against impeaching Mr Kordan. They refused, with one even slapping the aide's face in a parliamentary corridor. Two days later, Mr Ahmadinejad sacked the aide.
The Kordan saga began in August, when parliament, which vets ministers proposed by the president, met to vote on his confirmation. When several questioned Mr Kordan's eligibility, he flourished a graduation certificate that purportedly showed he had been awarded an "honorary doctorate of law" by Oxford University. He was then confirmed in the job.
But Mr Kordan did little to allay suspicions by persistently referring to "the London Oxford University". Within days, Iranian reporters were investigating claims that the degree was bogus, and Mr Kordan promptly released a copy.
Alef, an Iranian news website, pointed out several spelling and grammatical errors in the document. The word entitle, for instance, appeared as "intitle". Alef passed the certificate to Oxford University, which disavowed it.
Mr Kordan became a laughing stock. Iranian websites circulated a fake resignation letter by the supposedly contrite minister that brimmed with typographical errors and crossings-out. One deputy claimed Mr Kordan, who worked as a university lecturer, had even regaled students with imaginary tales of his halcyon days as a student.
Mr Kordan has claimed the degree was issued for his "managerial and executive experience" and for a thesis he had submitted to Oxford University through a person who had opened an affiliate office in Tehran. He declined to name the man and insisted he had received the degree in good faith. "To my utter disbelief, the university did not confirm (the degree] when my representative went there," he said.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 4 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 17 mph
Wind direction: North east