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Majeed strikes back, blames Pak players

cricket Updated: Nov 03, 2011 00:29 IST

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Explosive claims about corruption in Pakistan's cricket team stunned a London courtroom on Wednesday as three guilty players and their agent spoke out on each other's roles as they awaited sentence.

Judge Jeremy Cooke was due to pass sentence on Pakistan's former Test captain Salman Butt, fast bowlers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif, plus their agent Mazhar Majeed, whose guilty plea can now be reported. He admitted conspiracy to cheat and to obtain and accept corrupt payments during a pre-trial hearing in September.

They could each be jailed for up to seven years for conspiring to accept corrupt payments and up to two years for conspiring to cheat by arranging deliberate no-balls in a case that has rocked a sport rooted in ideals of fair play.

While the four stood in the dock, their lawyers sent claims and counter-claims flying across the packed Court 4 at Southwark Crown Court.

Butt, 27, watched as his lawyer said he admitted his career was over and he stood to lose his family. The lawyer for Majeed pleaded in mitigation - a submission which included a string of extraordinary claims about what was going on within the Pakistan team.

Accepting that his client was facing jail, he told the court of the agent's frustration at the "lies" the jury had heard from the defendants.

The lawyer said Butt had approached Majeed in 2009 to get involved in fixing and that Butt and another player, who is not among the three in the dock, had taken him to a meal in March 2010 to push him into fixing.

Bookie Sanjay
He said Majeed was introduced to a mysterious bookmaker called Sanjay, who was running the racket.

Majeed claimed that of the 150,000 pounds (Rs 1.17 crore) he received from an undercover newspaper reporter with the now-defunct News of the World tabloid, Asif got £65,000 (Rs 51 lakh) and Butt £10,000 (Rs 7.8 lakh). The judge then heard that Asif was given such a huge amount to keep him from joining another fixing racket.

Lawyers for Butt and Asif dismissed the claims about the sums of cash.

Not one-off
Cooke also dismissed claims that Aamer was only involved in one episode of spot-fixing. He said text messages sent from murky contacts in Pakistan suggested the youngster was also implicated in fixing during the preceding Test at The Oval.

Aamer claimed he was being leant upon and feared for his future in national side.