Ranatunga~~s lawyers slam ICC investigators

Published: Friday, May 11, 2001, 17:00 [IST]
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  Colombo: Lawyers for Sri Lanka's former cricket skipper, Arjuna Ranatunga, have slammed ICC anti-corruption investigators, accusing them of a "total lack of common courtesy".

The International Cricket Council's (ICC) anti-corruption investigator, Jeff Rees, and one of his aides tried to grill Ranatunga this month during a local inquiry into allegations that he accepted bribes to throw a match.

Ranatunga's lawyers in a statement to a newspaper here on Friday reiterated that they objected to two investigators of the ICC being present while local investigator Desmond Fernando conducted an inquiry.

"ICC investigators should have obtained some authority in writing from either the BCCSL (Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka) or the ICC and that their failure to do so amounts to a total lack of common courtesy and was in breach of all principles of natural justice," the statement said.

It said the lawyers objected to the two ICC investigators participating in Fernando's investigation in any way other than as observers.

"The only explanation to their status and credentials were provided by way of two visiting cards," lawyer Kalinga Indatissa said, while denying that Ranatunga was ever grilled by the ICC duo.

Fernando said Ranatunga refused to answer questions from the ICC officials.

"Ranatunga's lawyers took up the position that he had not been given prior notice of the questions," Fernando said. "It is now up to the ICC's anti-corruption panel to decide how they want to proceed."

However, in contrast, Fernando said that Ranatunga's former deputy, Aravinda de Silva, who is also facing similar charges, co-operated with the ICC officials and answered their questions on the previous day.

"When the ICC people wanted to put some questions to Aravinda, I went out of the room because I did not know what the questions were and I felt it could prejudice my own inquiry," Fernando said.

Fernando said he tried the same approach with the questioning of Ranatunga so that the ICC could put questions to him directly, but failed as Ranatunga and his lawyers objected.

Fernando's probe is focused on allegations contained in a report last year by India's Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI), which based the allegations on testimony by an Indian bookmaker, Mukesh Kumar Gupta.

However, ICC's anti-corruption chief, Sir Paul Condon, who visited here last week, announced that they were widening the scope of their inquiry beyond the allegations made in the Indian CBI report.

Ranatunga himself was not immediately available for comment, but in a letter published in a newspaper here on Sunday he told local investigator Fernando that his main accuser, Gupta was a "self-confessed rouge".

Ranatunga also blasted Sri Lanka's Board of Control for Cricket (BCCSL) for setting a bad precedent with the probe.

"If in the future, anybody whomsoever, however unsavoury a character he may be, makes scurrilous complaints against any cricketer of our country at any time, is that cricketer to be harassed and insulted by being asked for observations on such rubbish," Ranatunga said.

AFP Copyright AFP 2001

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