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Hearing against Nepal’s rape-accused star cricketer Lamichhane postponed again

Kathmandu: Hearing of the rape case against Nepal’s star cricketer Sandeep Lamichhane has been differed again on Sunday. 
The pending case which was allotted to the bench of Justice Prakash Kumar Pandit has been differed again owing to the reason of lack of time for hearing over the case. 

“Today's (August 27, 2023) hearing in the case against rape-accused Nepali star cricketer Sandeep Lamichhane has also been postponed. The case pending in the bench of Judge Prakash Kumar Pandit has been kept for non-hearing for the day,” a Court spokesperson announced. 
The next hearing over the case has been scheduled for September 7 enabling the rape-accused cricketer to fly to Pakistan to appear on the pitch during the Asia Cup 2023 scheduled to start from August 30.

Earlier on Saturday, the victim of the case (a female minor) had attempted suicide and is currently undergoing treatment at a hospital in Kathmandu. 
Hearing over the case has differed time and again providing various reasons and circumstances resulting in the delay of the final verdict. The victim still running in her teenage, has been kept at a women shelter and is seeking psychological counselling.
Meanwhile, the accused star cricketer Sandeep Lamichhane is preparing to fly to Pakistan on Sunday to join Nepal’s squad that will be playing in the Asia Cup starting August 30.

The Apex Court earlier on February 23 this year had ordered to conclude the case through fast fast-track process but the hearing has been on hold as it has continued to differ providing different occasions.
The court earlier paused the hearing after rape accused former national team captain travelled to Zimbabwe to participate in the world cup qualifiers. 
Lamichhane who stayed behind bars for a few months was released on bail and was later allowed to travel abroad. Earlier, the hearings were kept on hold to let him play international games, but now being back in Nepal the hearings have snarled.

The Patan High Court on January 12 had repelled the order of Kathmandu District Court to send Lamichhane to judicial custody in the case of raping a minor citing lack of grounds to keep him in custody. He was released on a bail of Rs 2 million the next day.

At the time of release, the Patan High Court had granted bail under five conditions, including a prohibition on abroad travels. The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) had appealed with the Supreme Court (SC) against the Patan High Court’s order to release him on a bail of Rs 2 million.
The OAG in its appeal has argued that the Patan High Court’s order to release Lamichhane on bail is against legal provisions and the SC’s interpretation during bail hearing in cases of similar nature.

Clause 27 of the National Criminal Procedure (Code) Act, 2017 has clear provision for holding the accused of any offence which is punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding three years in detention if based on the evidence available the accused appears to be guilty of the offence or there is any reasonable ground, based on such evidence, to believe that such person is guilty of the offence.

But Lamichhane was released on bail despite sub-section 3 (d) of Section 219 of the National Penal (Code) Act, 2017 stating that a person who commits rape shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of 10 to 12 years if the woman is 16 or above 16 years of age but below 18 years of age. Moreover, the victim in the case is 17 years old.
Lamichhane had also moved the SC demanding them to allow him to travel with the national team going to the UAE to play ICC Men's Cricket World Cup League 2 matches against the UAE and Papua New Guinea at the end of February.

The joint bench of Justices Sapana Pradhan Malla and Kumar Chudal after conducting a joint hearing of the petition by Lamichhane and the OAG’s appeal had ordered on February 27 to allow Lamichhane to go to the UAE.

The District Government Attorney’s Office (DGAO), Kathmandu had registered a case against Lamichhane charging him with raping a minor.
Police had investigated Lamichhane under Section 219 of the National Penal (Code) Act, 2017 after a 17-year-old girl filed a rape complaint against him.
The Kathmandu DGAO has demanded a prison sentence of up to 12 years against Lamichhane as per sub-section 3. It has also sought compensation for the victim.

However, Lamichhane has denied the rape allegation in his statements to the DGAO and police. He has admitted to staying with the girl in the same room of a hotel in Kathmandu on August 21. But he has said that the girl had slept on the bed and he had slept on a chair that night. 
The star cricketer who led the national cricket team has been accused of raping a minor multiple times in a hotel room in Kathmandu on August 21. A 17-year-old girl filed a rape complaint against Lamichhane at the Gaushala Police Circle on September 6.
The girl has complained that Lamichhane took her out to different places in Bhaktapur and Kathmandu on August 21, a day before Lamichhane left for the bilateral series with Kenya.

She has accused Lamichhane of raping her multiple times in room number 305 of a hotel in Kathmandu Metropolitan City Ward Number 9 that night. Police have also collected CCTV footage of the night from the hotel. The footage shows that Lamichhane had stayed at the hotel for seven hours.
The girl has claimed in her complaint that she had gone to Nagarkot with Lamichhane on August 17 after being introduced to him through a friend.
Lamichhane left to play in the Caribbean Premier League on August 22 after leading the team to a 3-2 victory in the five-match Twenty20 series against Kenya. Rohit Kumar Paudel then led the Nepali team in the one-dayers in his absence.

An arrest warrant was issued against Lamichhane on September 8 and the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) suspended him from the national team the same day after issuance of the arrest warrant.
Later, Nepal police also issued a diffusion notice against him through Interpol on September 26.

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