Aussie cricketer granted bail in India: Lawyer

27-year-old batsman faces up to two years in jail if found guilty of molestation and assault.


Afp May 19, 2012

NEW DELHI: Australian cricketer Luke Pomersbach was granted bail Saturday by a New Delhi court following accusations he molested a woman and beat up her fiance, his lawyer told AFP.

The 27-year-old batsman, who has one cap for Australia, is signed up in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the Royal Challengers Bangalore team, which took on the Delhi Daredevils on Thursday night.

He faces up to two years in jail if found guilty of molestation and assault after the incident during an after-game party at the swanky ITC Maurya Hotel in the Indian capital.

The cricketer has denied the charges against him.

His lawyer, Ajay Bhargava told AFP: "He has received bail, on condition that he surrenders his passport and pays a surety of Rs30,000 ($550) on each charge."

He added that the court ruled that "a trespassing charge cannot be maintained" against Pomersbach after CCTV footage filmed outside the alleged victim's room proved inconclusive on whether the cricketer had forcibly entered her suite.

A visibly relieved Pomersbach told reporters outside the court: "I am happy that I have been granted bail and looking forward to getting to the bottom of it."

His arrest was headline news in Indian and Australian newspapers on Saturday with reports detailing the sensational allegations in the case and the chequered history of the money-spinning IPL.

The powerfully built cricketer, wearing a heavy bandage on his right arm, fainted during an earlier court appearance on Friday.

Pomersbach has battled depression and drug problems and narrowly avoided a jail sentence in Australia after admitting assaulting a police officer who was trying to arrest him for drunk driving.

He arrived in India for the IPL saying he was now "on top of things", adding he was determined to make the most of the Indian league in order to get his career back on track.

The alleged woman victim, a 27-year-old from the US, told Indian media Pomersbach had "tagged along" with her and her Mumbai-based fiance and said the cricketer grabbed her while they drank together in a hotel room.

When her fiance asked Pomersbach to leave her alone, Pomersbach "turned around and started hitting him", she alleged.

The man was in a stable condition in hospital. He has yet to make a statement to police.

The charges against Pomersbach are the most recent in a string of scandals that have rocked the glitzy, headline-grabbing IPL tournament.

Earlier this week, five Indian players signed to IPL teams were suspended after an undercover TV report alleged they were prepared to take money for spot-fixing, an illegal practice in which parts of the game are fixed.

On Wednesday night, Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who is co-owner of the Kolkata Knight Riders franchise, was involved in an ugly late-night row with officials at Mumbai's main Wankhede cricket stadium.

As a result, he was banned by the Mumbai Cricket Association for five years from entering the stadium.

The annual IPL tournament also faces allegations of massive corporate corruption, money-laundering and tax evasion, as well as secret deals to hide teams' real owners and even links to India's criminal underworld.

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