Cricketers to criminals? Pakistan's tainted trio in a fix
Three Pakistani cricketers and a Britain-based 'agent' are to be charged with conspiring to cheat bookmakers, British authorities said on Friday, five months after a newspaper named them in a sensational 'spot-fixing' scandal. Dipankar De Sarkar reports. Pak's spot-fixing controversy timelinecricket Updated: Feb 05, 2011 07:24 IST
Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir will be charged along with agent Mazhar Majeed --- accused of accepting £150,000 to fix the actions of the players --- the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.
The 'News of the World' reported on August 28 that the three men had agreed that no-balls would be bowled at specific times during last summer's fourth Test match against England at Lord's in return for cash payments. The revelations shocked the cricketing world, but at one point Pakistan's High Commissioner in London, Wajid Hasan, sought to blame the entire episode on an imagined Indian conspiracy. "There seems to be a conspiracy to keep Pakistan out," he had said.
Now, after months of interrogation and investigation, Scotland Yard detectives appear to have gathered enough evidence to blow such theories away.
"These charges relate to allegations that Mr Majeed accepted money from a third party to arrange for the players to bowl no-balls on August 26 and 27, 2010, during Pakistan's fourth Test at Lord's Cricket Ground in London," said Samuel Clements, head of the CPS special crimes division.
"Mr Majeed has been summonsed to appear for a first hearing at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court on March 17. Summonses for the same court date have been issued for the three players and they have been asked to return to this country voluntarily, as they agreed to do in September last year. Their extradition will be sought should they fail to return.
"We received a full file of evidence on December 7, 2010, and we are satisfied there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and it is in the public interest to prosecute."The International Cricket Council tribunal in Doha is due to announce on Saturday whether the players are to face any sanctions, but Clements said, "criminal proceedings are active now."
If found guilty, trio faces 7 years in jail
Reuters adds: The cricketers face possible life bans from the International Cricket Council if found guilty.
As for charges pressed in London, obtaining and accepting corrupt payments carries a maximum sentence of seven years' imprisonment, while cheating carries a maximum sentence of two years' imprisonment, the CPS said.
"It is a very bad thing to happen to Pakistan cricket and that too just before the World Cup," former captain Rashid Latif said from Dubai.