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Last Updated: Monday, 19 January, 2004, 12:06 GMT
Judge denies India rape charges
Judge Seeraj Desai (right) at a Bombay court hearing with his lawyer
Judge Seeraj Desai (right) said he was innocent
Police in the western Indian city of Bombay have arrested a South African judge on rape charges.

Seeraj Desai, 53, a judge in the Cape High Court, denies raping a fellow delegate at the World Social Forum, which is being held in the city.

Mr Desai appeared in court on Monday and was remanded in custody until Friday after being refused bail.

Police say Mr Desai has admitted having sex with the woman but insists it was by mutual consent.

Police statement

South African newspaper The Star said it had received a text message from Mr Desai rejecting the allegations.

"I am innocent. I find rape offensive," he told the newspaper.

The alleged victim's police statement said the incident occurred in Mr Desai's room at the Taj President Hotel in the Cuff Parade area of Bombay (also called Mumbai) at around 3am on Sunday morning.

The six-day World Social Forum, which ends on Wednesday, has attracted about 100,000 participants.

They are discussing issues ranging from the environment to the US-led occupation of Iraq.

Forum spokesman Gautam Mody said: "The incident has saddened and shocked us."

South African foreign affairs department spokesperson Nomfanelo Kota said it was following up the matter.

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