Aussie cricketer charged with India hotel assault

Indian police on Friday arrested and charged Australian cricketer Luke Pomersbach with molesting a woman and beating up her fiance after a late-night party at a posh New Delhi hotel.

The 27-year-old batsman, who has one international 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 three years in jail after being charged with molestation, assault and house-breaking after allegedly groping a 27-year-old American woman during an after-game party at the ITC Maurya Hotel, a police statement said.

"We have arrested Luke Pomersbach for assaulting a woman and beating up the fiance who objected to his action," police spokesman Rajan Bhagat told AFP.

The powerfully built cricketer, wearing a heavy bandage on his right arm, later appeared in a central Delhi court where he fainted. He was granted bail until Saturday.

"My client is denying the charges against him," Pomersbach's lawyer Ajay Bhargava told AFP. "We have received interim bail and my client has to appear in court tomorrow."

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

He arrived in India saying he was now "on top of things", adding that he was determined to make the most of the money-spinning but scandal-plagued Indian league in order to get his career back on track.

The alleged victim told the Times Now news channel that Pomersbach had "tagged along" with her and her Mumbai-based fiance and had suddenly grabbed her while they drank together in their hotel room.

"My fiance said, 'hey listen, you shouldn't treat any girl like that. Why don't you just leave...'

"When he said that, he (Pomersbach) turned around and started hitting him. He hit him so many times, punched him on his face, that his ear, he got injured in his ear."

The man is in a stable condition in a private New Delhi hospital, but was complaining about losing hearing in his left ear, doctors said.

Royal Challengers Bangalore team manager Avinash Vaidya declined to comment on the incident.

Pomersbach has not featured for Bangalore in this season's IPL, which has again hit the headlines for the wrong reasons and is being dubbed the "Indian Problem League" by some commentators.

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 cricket 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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