Thatscricket - Wish your star

Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2001, 23:53 [IST]
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Cape Town: The South African King Commission into cricket corruption may not sit again, state prosecutor Shamila Batohi admitted on Tuesday.Batohi, who led evidence during the often-sensational hearings last June in which former captain Hansie Cronje admitted receiving more than $ 100,000 from bookmakers and gamblers, told the 'Cape Argus' newspaper that it was not necessary for the commission to reconvene before Judge Edwin King issued his final report.The hearings have been postponed five times since the first session in June that led to a life ban from cricket for Cronje and six-month bans for South African national team players Herchelle Gibbs and Henry Williams.Batohi said a decision on the future course of the King Commission would have to be made by Judge King, who earlier this month postponed the hearings indefinitely after a challenge to his constitutional status by Cronje's lawyers.The indefinite delay followed a court order obtained by Cronje's lawyers who said it would be unfair to Cronje if the hearings resumed on January 25 as planned because they were unavailable. A new date of February 19 was set before King's indefinite postponement.With Batohi having failed to obtain new evidence on a trip to India last year, it appears there is no substantial new evidence to bring before the omission.Amid speculation that he was keen for the Commission to close down, sports minister Ngconde Balfour denied on Monday that he had put pressure on Judge King.A statement from the minister's office quoted Judge King as saying, "I am not aware of any pressure from any quarter on me to close down the Commission. On the contrary, it rests with me to decide on the future of the proceedings of the Commission. I am considering various options open to me. I have never at any time stated or implied that my hand is being forced with regard to the proceedings of the Commission."Balfour said the Commission's work would be completed once a final report was handed to President Thabo Mbeki. In the absence of new evidence, Batohi indicated, it might be possible for Judge King to write his report without further hearings, even though some former players had been subpoenaed to testify.Cronje was offered amnesty from criminal prosecution, if he told the whole truth to the King Commission. Judge King's final report will include a recommendation on whether he believes that Cronje fulfilled the conditions of the amnesty offer.Since the hearings in Cape Town last June, the focus of international attention on allegations of match fixing has switched to India, where former captain Mohammad Azharuddin was banned for life, and to the International Cricket Council anti-corruption unit headed by Sir Paul Condon.Copyright AFP 2000

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