UN expert accused of harassment
The Indian leader of the UN's expert panel on climate change has pulled out of a key meeting while pledging to co-operate with police investigating allegations of sexual harassment.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said its chairman, Rajendra Pachauri, would skip next week's plenary session in the Kenyan capital Nairobi "because of issues demanding his attention in India".
Mr Pachauri is being investigated by police after a 29-year-old woman accused him of sexually harassing her while they worked together at the New Delhi lobbying and research organisation he heads, The Energy Resources Institute.
Mr Pachauri, 75, said he was "committed to provide all assistance and co-operation to the authorities in their ongoing investigations," according to a statement issued last night.
The case erupted over the past week after a court lifted a media gag order on Thursday and allowed Mr Pachauri to apply for anticipatory bail.
Newspapers have since run full-page stories detailing alleged text-message exchanges between the IPCC chief and the woman.
In the past couple of years, India has seen a wave of public anger and protest over the socially conservative nation's chronic problem with sexual harassment and violence against women.
While new laws have increased prison terms for rape and made stalking, voyeurism and sexual harassment a crime, new reports of abuse are featured by newspapers almost every day.
According to reports, New Delhi police also plan to question a second woman who made public allegations against Mr Pachauri yesterday but provided no evidence and filed no police complaint.
The IPCC said yesterday that one of its vice-chairs would lead the Nairobi meeting.
Mr Pachauri has chaired the climate panel since 2002, accepting the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize on its behalf. He has said he will not run for a third term after October.