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February 22, 2019

Ex-UN climate chief to face sexual assault trial

Ex-UN climate chief to face sexual assault trial
'Rajendra Pachauri has been charged under various counts including sexual assault, harassment and criminal intimidation' - By: AFP/File EITAN ABRAMOVICH

Former UN climate panel chief Rajendra Pachauri will stand trial in a sexual assault and harassment case three years after an employee accused him of inappropriate conduct, a lawyer said Friday.

Pachauri, 78, has been charged under various counts including sexual assault, harassment and criminal intimidation, according to the complainant's lawyer.

"After examining the charges and hearing arguments from the counsels, the court came to the conclusion that prima facie there is evidence to put him (Pachauri) to trial," Prashant Mendiratta told AFP.

The employee, who worked under Pachauri at an environment think-tank in New Delhi, filed a complaint in 2015 accusing him of unwanted physical contact and sending inappropriate texts and emails.

Pachauri denies the allegations and has said his emails and mobile phone were hacked.

AFP could not immediately contact Pachauri or his lawyer for comment.

A leading voice on the dangers of global warming, Pachauri was forced to quit as chairman of the Nobel Prize-winning UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) after the complaint.

His alleged victim, a research analyst then aged 29, said Pachauri repeatedly sent inappropriate emails, text and WhatsApp messages soon after she joined the think-tank.

"Chuffed to bits. This has not been easy. This is a big leap towards the truth. I am relieved," the complainant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told local media Friday after the court hearing.

Pachauri, a veteran climate change expert, took the helm of the IPCC in 2002 and was elected to a second term in 2008.

He has previously been in the limelight over incorrect global warming data and for authoring a racy novel involving sex and reincarnation.

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