India editor calls sex assault case a vendetta

2014-02-18 14:02
Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal speaks at a hotel in New Delhi, India. (File, AP)

Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal speaks at a hotel in New Delhi, India. (File, AP)

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Panaji - A prominent Indian magazine editor accused of sexually assaulting a female colleague in a hotel elevator said on Tuesday he is innocent and will be vindicated by security cameras.

Tarun Tejpal, editor of the weekly investigative magazine Tehelka, suggested the case had been orchestrated by his enemies.

Police filed a 2 846-page charge sheet on Monday also accusing him of rape and wrongfully restraining the woman under new Indian laws which broaden the definition of rape to include some other forms of sexual assault.

"The charge sheet against me is out of political vendetta. I have done nothing wrong," Tejpal told reporters outside a court house in the southern state of Goa after his bail hearing was postponed to 4 March.

"The entire truth is in the CCTV footage, and it will be known to the world," the Press Trust of India news agency quoted him as saying.

The case has stunned many in India, in part because the 50-year-old editor led the magazine's push to confront corruption and sexual violence in Indian society.

The woman, who has not been identified by name in India, accused Tejpal of assaulting her twice in a hotel elevator, on 7 November and 8 November, when the magazine was hosting its annual conference of Indian leaders, newsmakers and celebrities.

In a resignation letter last year, she said she had endured "intimidation, character assassination and slander" since raising her allegations.

After the accusations became public, Tejpal initially apologised for "a bad lapse of judgment, an awful misreading of the situation" and said he was stepping down for six months. Later, he described the sexual encounter as consensual and fleeting.

Tejpal has been held in a Goa jail since his 30 November arrest. If convicted, he could face up to seven years in prison.

Police said Tejpal tried for weeks to evade arrest, with officers searching for him in Mumbai, Bangalore, New Delhi and Hyderabad.

Tehelka, which means upheaval or sensation in Hindi, is closely followed by Indian journalists and the English-speaking elite. Using sting operations and exposes, the magazine has taken aim at high-level corruption.

- AP

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