No material evidence showing trespass with mal intent, says magistrate; victim says she got death threats from some ‘IPL guys'
Australian cricketer Luke Pomersbach, accused of molesting an American national and assaulting her fiancé at a five-star hotel here, was granted bail on Saturday with his lawyer telling the court that efforts would be made to “amicably settle” the issue.
Though CCTV footage from the hotel and medical records of the victim's fiancé, Sahil Peerzada were also placed before the court for perusal, police sources said whatever happened at the door of the victim's suite was outside the range of the closed-circuit camera.
The footage revealed that a fourth person had accompanied the victim, her fiancé and Mr. Pomersbach, but this person, a friend of the fiancé, told the police that he left the suite some time before the alleged molestation incident took place. The victim also told the police that she ran out of the room screaming, when Mr. Pomersbach began assaulting her fiancé.
She claimed she had asked the hotel authorities to contact the police and was told that it would be done. Though the hotel authorities posted a guard outside the victim's suite, the first call to the police was made at 6.23 a.m. by the victim.
The CCTV footage showed Mr. Pomersbach coming back a second time with his right hand in a cast and a bottle of liquor in his left hand. The guard purportedly told the police that Mr. Pomersbach banged the door of the suite a few times and allegedly did not pay heed to him.
Hotel staff questioned
The police said statements of the hotel staff on duty at the time of the incident are being recorded for corroboration. They have also learnt that the suite where the victim had been staying along with her fiancé had purportedly been booked by the head of an IPL team from April 14 to May 15. The booking was pushed to May 18.
In her order, Metropolitan Magistrate Navita Kumari Bagha rejected the police contention that Mr. Pomersbach had trespassed into the victim's suite. “No material evidence for offence under Section 452 [house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint] of the Indian Penal Code is made out against the accused. The other offences of Sections 323 [punishment for voluntarily causing hurt] and 354 [assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty] of the IPC are bailable. I am granting him bail on a personal bond of Rs. 30,000 with two sureties,” Ms. Bagha said. The court also asked him to surrender his passport and not leave the country without permission.
However, counsel for the victim, Zeeshan Alam Siddiqui, alleged that during the party at the hotel, the cricketer had “come close” to the victim and that “what he wanted to do in the party he did in the suite and it was a planned attack.” During the hearing, the investigating officer repeatedly emphasised that the charge of trespass against Mr. Pomersbach was made out.
Efforts for settlement
Interestingly, senior advocate Ramesh Gupta, appearing for Mr. Pomersbach, told the court that efforts would be made to “amicably settle” the issue.
Coming out of the courtroom, Mr. Pomersbach told reporters: “I am disappointed with the allegations made against me. It is sickening…I am happy that I have been granted bail...I am relieved, I have faith in the Indian judiciary,” he said.
Meanwhile, the victim has sent a legal notice to director of Royal Challengers Bangalore team Siddharth Mallya, for his tweets casting aspersions on her character, demanding an unconditional apology, failing which she would file a defamation complaint against him. The victim said she was hurt and disappointed by Mr. Siddharth's tweet.
The victim also told reporters on Saturday that when she returned to the hotel to collect some documents from her room, “5-6 IPL guys” threatened to kill her.
Pressed for her comments on the matter, Delhi Woman and Child Welfare Minister Kiran Walia said: “A complaint has been lodged by the victim with the Delhi Commission for Women. The police are already pursuing the matter. We will be rigorously monitoring the case. If the allegation is correct, then what has happened is very wrong and is not just a matter of tendering an apology. What has happened to the victim is unacceptable and inexcusable.”
Primus Super-specialty Hospital spokesperson Deep Makkar said the victim's fiancé has been shifted out of ICU. “The person was injured in the ear. There is no permanent damage to hearing. We have, however, performed a minor surgery on the external part of the injured ear. There are also bruises on his limbs, though there are no major or extensive injuries,” said Dr. Makkar.
(With inputs from Bindu Shajan Perappadan)
The victim also approached Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) complaining about Mr. Siddharth's tweets.
“I am really hurt, I am disappointed. It is a false statement. My attorneys are taking action against him,” the victim told reporters.
Mr. Siddharth said the victim was “talking nonsense” and went on to allege that “she was all over me last night [Thursday] and asked for my bbm [blackberry messenger] pin.” She said she went to the IPL party with Sahil, who was an invitee. “I did meet [Siddharth]. Sahil was with me.”
DCW chairperson Barkha Singh said she has received the victim's complaint regarding Mr. Siddharth. “We will take up the matter on Monday,” she said.