Boje denies link to 2000 match-fixing scam

Published: Tuesday, December 11, 2007, 16:18 [IST]
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South African bowler Nicky Boje on Tuesday denied charges of match-fixing under questioning by Indian police probing the scandal which hit cricket seven years ago, officials said.

The 34-year-old, who was escorted to a New Delhi interrogation centre by South African diplomats, was grilled for nearly two hours by Crime Branch detectives who are investigating the scandal, they said.

"He denied his role in the match-fixing scandal and so questions on all relevant aspects of the case were asked," Police spokesman Rajan Bhagat told AFP.

Bhagat however said the left-armed spinner, "cooperated nicely" after coming voluntarily from the northern Indian city of Panchkula, where he is playing in the rebel Indian Cricket League until Sunday.

Boje was quizzed in connection with the match-fixing scandal involving then skipper Hansie Cronje and three of his teammates during South Africa's tour of India in 2000.

Crime Branch chief Satyandra Garg said the player, who retired from international cricket last year, was extensively questioned.

"We have interrogated him on all aspects of the case," Garg said in a statement after a visibly-relieved Boje was allowed to return to Panchkula.

"Whatever questions we wanted to ask him, we have done that and we will now conduct further enquiries," he added as others said Boje was also asked about his links with a South African bookie and if he held a bank account in London.

The police had issued a summons Wednesday, ordering Boje to "assist" detectives in the ongoing probe.

Cronje, who died in an aircrash in 2002, was banned for life over the scandal.

Crime Branch officers said they had presented a written questionnaire to Boje.

"He was asked to corroborate various things things told to us by (South Africa's Herschelle) Gibbs when we interrogated him last year," a police officer who declined to be named told AFP.

Boje had previously skipped two tours of India after failing to obtain assurances that he would not be detained by police.

Boje and batsman Gibbs were found guilty of being part of the skipper Cronje's conspiracy in a public inquiry in South Africa.

They were heavily fined and banned for six months after Indian police exposed the racket.

Boje, Gibbs and Cronje are listed as the key suspects in India, where police registered a criminal case in May 14, 2000.

Gibbs was questioned by detectives when he flew to India for the Champions Trophy last year and admitted accepting money from Cronje to score fewer than 20 runs against India in a one-day match during the 2000 March-April tour. He named three teammates as co-conspirators.

Delhi police say they recorded Cronje's telephone conversations with bookies in India in which he struck deals to throw one-day matches.

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