Nepal suspends former cricket captain after rape conviction
KATHMANDU, Nepal (AFP) – Nepal’s cricket body on Thursday suspended former captain and star player Sandeep Lamichhane, a day after he was sentenced to eight years in prison for rape.
Lamichhane, 23, was once the poster boy for cricket in Nepal and the leg-spinner’s on-field success had boosted the sport’s profile in the Himalayan republic.
In 2022, he was accused of raping a young woman in a Kathmandu hotel but was freed on bail and returned to the squad to compete in international tournaments.
“We inform you that Sandeep Lamichhane has been suspended from any kind of domestic and international cricket activities as he has been convicted and sentenced,” Cricket Association of Nepal president Chatur Bahadur Chand said in a statement.
Lamichhane is not in custody and was not in court for Wednesday’s sentencing.
His lawyer, Saroj Ghimire, told AFP he “will appeal the decision” in a higher court.
The rape survivor had said she was a minor at the time of the crime, but in a previous ruling the court said she was 18.
Lamichhane was convicted of rape in December after a repeatedly delayed trial that had left him free to continue his sporting career.
When authorities issued an arrest warrant in September 2022, Lamichhane initially failed to return from Jamaica, where he was playing in the Caribbean Premier League.
He was dismissed as national captain and arrested, but Nepal lifted his playing ban after he was freed on bail.
This allowed him to remain on the national team, including for the World Cup qualifiers and the 2023 Asia Cup.
Cricket does not enjoy the same adulation in mountainous Nepal as it does elsewhere in South Asia.
But the sport has been growing in popularity, with Nepal given one-day international status by the world governing body in 2018.
Lamichhane was a major part of this rise as the most sought-after Nepali cricketer in lucrative T20 franchise leagues around the world.
His big break came when he was snapped up for the Indian Premier League, the world’s richest cricket tournament, in 2018.