India to put former top climate change official on trial for sexual harassment

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An Indian court has ordered the trial of sexual harassment charges against one of world's leading climate change experts, Rajendra K. Pachauri, his lawyer said on Saturday.

The 78-year-old Pachauri, who had previously chaired the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, had stepped down from the panel in 2015 following a sexual harassment complaint by a researcher at Pachauri's Delhi-based The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

Pachauri denies the charges and has sought a speedy trial due to his old age, his counsel Ashish Dikshit told Reuters.

Pachauri is accused of making physical advances, wrongful restraint, sending unwanted emails, and messages. He goes on trial just as the #MeToo movement sweeps India with a large number of women accusing public figures in the media and entertainment industry of sexual misconduct.

A junior government minister resigned last week after women accused him of making physical advances in hotel rooms and in the office during his previous career as a journalist.

India is also considering tightening sexual harassment laws, government officials told Reuters last week.

The Delhi court has charged Pachauri under sections of the Indian Penal code including sexual harrassment and outraging the modesty of a woman.

The trial begins on January 4, his counsel said.

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