Karachi, July 22: Pakistan pacer Muhammad Aamir could have escaped with a two-year ban instead of the five years he is serving right now for his involvement in spot-fixing, had he accepted the plea bargain offered initially by the ICC's anti-corruption tribunal.
Sources close to the player disclosed that during the hearings of the ICC anti-corruption tribunal in Dubai and Doha late last year and in early 2011, Aamir''s lawyer was given the option of accepting a plea bargain for his client.
"Aamir was told that if he agreed to admit to his crime of spot-fixing and admitted the involvement of teammates, Salman Butt and Muhammad Asif while pleading for leniency because of his young age he would escape with a two-year ban," one source said.
"But Aamir initially turned down the offer and kept on refuting that he was involved in spot-fixing. But later his lawyer approached the tribunal and told the members his client was ready for a plea bargain but by that time the tide had turned," the source said.
The source also disclosed that during the duration of the hearings, the lawyers for the players complained that their clients were not being entirely honest with them.
"The ICC felt it had an airtight case against the trio and were disappointed when the tribunal imposed a minimum five year ban on the three Pakistani players," the source said.
The trio were caught in a sting operation carried out by the British tabloid News of The World during Pakistan''s tour to England last year.
The tabloid closed down recently after being caught out in number of unethical practices.
"There was some hope that with the reputation of the NOW in tatters the players could get some reprieve at the crown prosecution court hearing but this didn''t happen as the ICC has also accumulated material against them," the source said.
Aamir is facing the possibility of having his ban extended after appearing in a club match in England in the Surrey league.