It could be jail, if Nasser doesnt shake Mugabes hand

Published: Sunday, January 19, 2003, 21:19 [IST]
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London: England skipper Nasser Hussain's decision not to shake hands with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe during the team's opening World Cup fixture in that country, may land him in jail, a British daily reported on Sunday. Two years ago Zimbabwe introduced a legislation making it a criminal offence for anyone travelling in the country to show any sign of disrespect for the President, 'The Sunday Times' reported.

The law has already been used to jail local people for breaches as minor as failing to cheer Mugabe's motorcade, and critics of the regime say Hussain could be prosecuted if he refuses to shake hands with the dictator. Hussain made it clear last month that he will refuse to shake hands with Mugabe at the World Cup game scheduled to be played in Harare on February 13. England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief executive Tim Lamb had also maintained that the team would not play any part in "ceremonial activities" that might be used to bolster Mugabe's position.

The ECB had decided last week that England will go ahead with the game in Zimbabwe ignoring protests from different quarters. Zimbabwean opposition politicians say the England team will find it all but impossible to avoid being caught in Mugabe's propaganda net. However, Lamb dismissed the prospect of any member of the England team being arrested. "We are not intending to go out of our way to show disrespect to Mugabe, but what we are determined to ensure is that our players are not put in any position where they would give him a platform for a PR stunt," he said.

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