Sandeep Lamichhane, a former star cricket captain, was sentenced to eight years in jail by a Nepalese court on Wednesday for rape.
The 23-year-old leg spinner Lamichhane was once Nepal’s cricket poster child, and his on-field accomplishments raised awareness of the game in the Himalayan nation.
He was released on bail after being charged of raping a young lady at a Kathmandu hotel in 2022, and he rejoined the team to participate in international competitions.
He was found guilty of rape in December after a protracted trial that had allowed him to pursue his athletic career. On Wednesday, his sentence was announced.
“The court has sentenced him to eight years,” Ramu Sharma, an officer from the Kathmandu district court, told AFP.
Additionally, he was mandated to provide the victim 200,000 rupees ($1,500) in addition to a court punishment of 300,000 Nepalese rupees ($2,255), “considering the mental impact” his assault had on her.
For the sentence, Lamichhane, who is not in detention, was not present in court.
Saroj Ghimire, his attorney, said AFP that he “will appeal the decision in a higher court”.
Although the woman had claimed to be underage when she was raped, the court had already determined that she was really eighteen.
Despite the indictment, Lamichhane maintained his innocence and was well-liked by the people.
At first, Lamichhane did not show up from Jamaica, where he was participating in the Caribbean Premier League, after the police issued an arrest order.
After being detained and stripped of his position as national captain, he was released on bond and Nepal removed his playing suspension.
Because of this, he was able to continue playing for his country in the 2023 Asia Cup as well as the World Cup qualifications.
When he returned to the field for the first time in February of last year, hundreds of cheering cricket fans greeted him.
However, his prolonged playing career has also incited resentment and led many Nepalis to reject the squad.
During an international cricket competition in Dubai, the cricket players from Scotland declined to shake hands with him after their matches.
In hilly Nepal, cricket is not as popular as it is in other parts of South Asia.
However, it has been gaining traction; in 2018, the global governing body granted Nepal one-day international status.
Being the most sought-after Nepali cricket player in high-paying competitions throughout the globe was largely due to Lamichhane.
The leg spinner’s big break came in 2018 when he signed with the wealthiest cricket league in the world, the Indian Premier League.
Police in Nepal state that there were around 2,300 occurrences of rape during the fiscal year 2021–2022, but human rights activists claim that many more attacks remain unreported.
Merely a few women in Nepal came out during the MeToo movement, and those who were implicated have either not been held accountable or have not suffered any consequences at all.