India's ex-Olympics boss pleads not guilty in graft trial

NEW DELHI (AFP) - India's former Olympics chief pleaded not guilty in court on Monday to an array of corruption charges related to his handling of the chaotic Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010.

Suresh Kalmadi, a lawmaker for the ruling Congress party, faces charges of criminal conspiracy, forgery, abuse of office and intimidation over a contract awarded to Swiss Timing, which is part of the Swatch luxury goods empire.

Kalmadi and seven others pleaded not guilty in written statements submitted to a special court set up to try the suspects over the massively over-budget Delhi event. They face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Also facing charges are Kalmadi's deputy during the Commonwealth Games, Lalit Bhanot, who has since been elected number two in the Indian Olympic Association.

The Delhi Games organising committee's director-general V.K. Verma, procurement director Surjit Lal, sports director A.S.V. Prasad, treasurer M. Jayachandran and three others are also on trial.

The next hearing was set for Feb 20.

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