Kathmandu, 10 Jan : Nepal’s leg-spinner, Sandeep Lamichhane, is currently facing a setback in his cricket career after receiving an eight-year jail sentence in connection with a rape case. The 23-year-old cricketer, who last played for Nepal against Oman in the T20 Asia Finals in November, has been found guilty of raping a 17-year-old girl.
The sentencing was delivered by the bench of Shishir Raj Dhakal, with Lamichhane receiving an eight-year imprisonment term, along with compensation and penalties. The verdict came after a series of delays, allowing Lamichhane to continue playing cricket despite the charges. The court official, Ramu Sharma, confirmed the decision following a recent hearing.
The rape incident allegedly took place in August 2022, in a hotel room in Kathmandu. Lamichhane had been released in January 2023 by the Nepal court, during which time he continued playing cricket. The court had initiated a fast-tracking process in February of the previous year to conclude the case promptly. However, the proceedings faced multiple delays, partly due to Lamichhane’s participation in the World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe.
During this period, Lamichhane, the former Nepal captain, was released on bail and permitted to travel abroad, as he had not yet been convicted. The Kathmandu District Government Attorney’s Office (DGAO) had initially sought a 12-year prison term for Lamichhane under sub-section 3 (d) of Section 219 of the National Penal Code Act, 2017. This subsection specifies that individuals found guilty of raping a woman aged 16 or above but below 18 could face imprisonment ranging from 10 to 12 years.
An arrest warrant had been issued in Lamichhane’s name, leading to his suspension from the Nepal cricket team following the Asia Cup. Despite the serious charges, Lamichhane consistently denied the allegations. Even his legal representative, Sabita Bhandari Baral, expressed frustration, stating, “We did not expect this judgement…” after the court’s decision last month.