KATHMANDU (AFP): Nepal cricket captain Sandeep Lamichhane on Friday denied allegations that he raped a 17-year-old girl and said he would go home to fight his case.
A Nepali court has issued an arrest warrant for the 22-year-old, who is playing in the Caribbean Premier League, and he has been suspended from his leadership position.
The teenage girl, along with her guardian, filed a complaint against the player earlier this week, alleging that he raped her in a hotel room in Kathmandu last month after they met and went out.
In a statement on his social media channels, Lamichhane wrote: “I am INNOCENT & keep complete belief in the respectable laws of Nepal.
“I have decided to take a leave from CPL and go back to my country within few days.
“I am ready to face all these baseless allegations. May justice be served to the innocent & right investigation to be done towards everyone involved.
“Hope the law acts equal to everyone.”
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Lamichhane is currently playing for Jamaica Tallawahs in the Caribbean Premier League being held across the West Indies.
Lamichhane is a poster boy for the rise of cricket in Nepal, which gained one-day international status in 2018 but remains a long way from contesting a World Cup.
The leg-spinner´s big break came when he was snapped up by the Delhi Capitals for the lucrative Indian Premier League in 2018 and he has since been the most sought-after Nepali cricket player in international T20 leagues.
The accusations against him come after the conviction of popular Nepali actor Paul Shah this week for sexual misconduct with a minor.
He was sentenced to two and a half years in prison and ordered to pay his victim compensation.
About 2,300 rape cases were reported in Nepal in the last fiscal year, according to police, but rights workers say many more assaults go unreported.
Only a handful of women in Nepal spoke out during the #MeToo movement, and the accused have faced little or no repercussions over the allegations.
In May, hundreds protested in Kathmandu for tougher laws and enforcement in cases of sexual violence after an aspiring model posted a series of TikTok videos detailing abuse when she was a teenager.