Butt, Asif to be sentenced in spot-fixing case

Published: Wednesday, November 2, 2011, 11:46 [IST]
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Butt, Asif guilty of spot-fixing

London, Nov 2: Termed as Cricket's worst scandals in over a decade, former Pakistan captain Salman Butt and pacer Mohammad Asif were convicted for fixing a part of the match against England in Lord's Test in August last year.

A third cricketer, pace bowler Mohammad Aamer, had already pleaded guilty but this could not be reported earlier because he was only 18 at the time. He would be sentenced along with the other two later this week.

The sentence will be pronounced on Wednesday. The three players have already been banned by the International Cricket Council for a minimum of five years.

The verdict came after an often dramatic four-week trial that saw some of the biggest names in Pakistan cricket, including those of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, dragged into controversy.

Southwark Crown Court found the duo guilty of conspiracy to cheat and conspiring to accept corrupt payments during a Pakistan-England Test match at Lord's last year. The verdict came on a day when Butt's wife Gul gave birth to a son in Lahore.

On the other hand ICC's anti-corruption unit is all set to launch a fresh investigation on spot-fixing suspecting even other matches of the tour were fixed and more players could have been involved.

While the jury unanimously convicted Butt and Asif for cheating, on the second charge of accepting illegal payments, both were separately found guilty by a 10-2 majority. The two players, along with Aamer, face up to seven years in prison or a fine. It was the first time that anyone had been convicted under Britain's new Gambling Act, which came into force in 2005.

During the trial, prosecutors alleged the the duo had plotted to deliberately ball no-balls in a test match between Pakistan and England last year.

The duo was accused after a sting operation by the News of the World newspaper taped a conversation with a players' agent, Mazhar Majeed, in which he claimed he could arrange for Pakistani players to fix matches for money.

The court heard that significant sums of money are made by rigging games or elements of matches for illegal betting syndicates.

Posing as a wealthy Indian businessman, a journalist with the News of th World approached Majeed in August last year. Majeed claimed he had been fixing matches for two and half years and made huge amounts of money. He also claimed he had seven players from Pakistani team ready to help him fix matches.

The secretly-filmed footage showed Majeed accepting £150,000 from the reporter and promising him that next day Asif and Amir would deliver three no-balls at specific intervals, which they did. Butt's role allegedly was to make sure that his bowlers bowled the three no-balls.

Butt denied the allegation claiming he had ignored Majeed's request. Asif, also denying any wrongdoing, claimed he ended up bowling a no-ball because Butt had told him to run faster moments before bowling.


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