ICC begins ~~fix~~ probe in Sri Lanka

Published: Wednesday, March 28, 2001, 23:53 [IST]
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 Colombo: The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Wednesday began probing allegations that Sri Lanka's former skipper Arjuna Ranatunga and his deputy Aravinda de Silva took bribes to throw a 1994 Test match in India. The chief investigator in the ICC's anti-corruption unit, Jeff Reed, who arrived here on Tuesday, will question local cricket officials and players involved in the 1994 tour, the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka (BCCSL) said. Sir Paul Condon who heads the ICC anti-corruption unit and was due to arrive here on Friday has delayed his visit because of a sudden commitment relating to another match-fixing inquiry, local officials said. "Sir Paul rescheduling his visit till the last week of April will in no way delay the inquiry here because Mr Reed has already started his work," BCCSL President Thilanga Sumathipala told AFP. He said Sir Paul was now expected in Sri Lanka between April 21 and 30. He said the BCCSL's own anti-corruption unit has issued summons to former skipper Ranatunga and deputy de Silva to appear before a hearing that could take place between April 2 and 4. Jeff Reed is expected to take part in the hearing together with Desmond Fernando who headed Sri Lanka's own investigation into the charges first made by an Indian bookmaker, M K Gupta last year. Cricket sources said Ranatunga and de Silva will be questioned by Reed while several other players who were in the team in 1994 and the team management will also be questioned. The ICC probe team was initially expected here last month, but sources said that their arrival was delayed due to Sri Lanka's Test and One-day series with England, which ended Tuesday. De Silva played in the Test series against England, but was dropped from the One dayers. Ranatunga, who led Sri Lanka to its World Cup victory in 1996, quit international cricket in August last year. Sri Lanka has initiated its own inquiry into the allegations that de Silva and Ranatunga took bribes but the findings have not yet been made public. Sumathipala said the ICC action was in keeping with the international requirements but any wrong doing will have to be dealt with in line with Sri Lanka's own laws and in line with the BCCSL constitution. Ranatunga has categorically denied charges of accepting bribes while De Silva had said he was approached by bookmakers but did not take bribes. Indian bookmaker M K Gupta's testimony was published in an Indian Central Bureau of Investigation report last year. The two Sri Lankan players were alleged to have helped ensure that Sri Lanka lost a 1994 Test against India in Lucknow. Sri Lanka's investigator Fernando had found new evidence not contained in the original Indian report, the local 'Sunday Observer' reported last month. The paper did not say if the new evidence would exonerate the two players or lead to further charges against them. AFP

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