India’s two-time Olympic medalist Sushil Kumar will stand trial for allegedly killing a fellow wrestler during a brawl at a stadium last year, his lawyer said on Thursday.
Kumar and 17 others were charged by a Delhi court on Wednesday more than a year after they were arrested in connection with the death of 23-year-old junior Sagar Dhankar following a long-running rivalry between two groups of fighters.
The court said investigators were able to gather enough evidence to open a case against Kumar, who has pleaded not guilty and accused the police of framing him.
Prosecutors accuse the 39-year-old champion of being the “entitled kingpin” in the high-profile May 2021 murder case that rocked the Indian sports fraternity.
He is charged with murder, kidnapping, rioting and using a deadly weapon. According to the prosecutor’s office, two of the accused are still on the run.
Kumar was arrested after a week-long manhunt following the deadly brawl, which was sparked by personal and professional rivalry between the two players.
Prosecutors allege that Kumar and the other accused beat Dankar and his friends with clubs and other weapons outside a stadium in Delhi and left the victim to die.
He was seen on video, which prosecutors say is authentic, attacking the former junior, who died in hospital.
Pardeep Rana, a lawyer for one of the accused, said his client was arrested on trumped-up charges.
“We will deny the allegations in court,” Rana told AFP.
Kumar was considered one of India’s finest athletes and is the only individual to have won two individual Olympic medals, a silver in freestyle wrestling at the 2012 London Games and a bronze at the Beijing Olympics four years earlier.
He has also represented India in other international competitions and won three Commonwealth Games golds and one gold at the 2010 World Wrestling Championships in Moscow.
He was awarded India’s highest award for sportsmen in 2009.
The former champion is being kept in a separate cell in Delhi’s Tihar Jail for security reasons.
– Originally published on 09.08