Patan High Court overturns conviction of Nepali cricketer Sandeep Lamichhane

Patan High Court overturns conviction of Nepali cricketer Sandeep Lamichhane

In a major legal reversal, Nepali cricketer Sandeep Lamichhane has been acquitted of rape charges by the Patan High Court. This overturns his previous conviction and 8-year prison sentence handed down by the Kathmandu District Court in December 2023.

The news was confirmed by court spokesperson Bimal Parajuli, who stated, "The decision of the district court has been completely reversed. Sandeep has been completely acquitted." The High Court bench of Judges Sudarshandev Bhatt and Anju Upreti Dhakal overturned the lower court's guilty verdict against Lamichhane.

The case dates back to September 2022 when a 26-year-old woman filed a police complaint accusing Lamichhane of raping her at a hotel in Sinamangal, Kathmandu. Lamichhane had initially denied the allegations but later admitted to being in the hotel room with the woman after a trip to Nagarkot.

Despite Lamichhane's claims of consensual relations, the District Court found him guilty based on evidence including the victim's statement, CCTV footage, bank statements, and witness accounts. He was sentenced to 8 years in prison and a fine of 500,000 Nepali rupees.

Lamichhane, who was playing international cricket at the time, returned to Nepal in October 2022 and was immediately arrested upon arrival. He was granted bail by the High Court in January 2023 but was barred from leaving the country by the Supreme Court until the final verdict.

The acquittal by the Patan High Court marks a stunning turnaround, though full details of the court's reasoning are yet to be released. Lamichhane can now potentially resume his cricketing career, having been unable to play for Nepal since his conviction.

The high-profile case has garnered significant attention in Nepal and the cricket world. Advocates have raised concerns over the handling of the case and the treatment of the victim, calling for stronger protections for survivors of sexual violence.

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