Monday, June 24, 2024

Butt, Asif found guilty of spot-fixing; face jail


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London: Pakistan cricket was on Tuesday drowned in deep shame with two of its cricketers–former Test captain Salman Butt and pacer Mohammad Asif–found guilty in the spot-fixing scam by a jury at the Southwark Crown Court here.

The 12-man jury found Butt, 27, guilty of conspiracy to accept corrupt payments and conspiracy to cheat, while Asif, 28, was convicted of the charge of conspiracy to cheat in one of the biggest scandals that rocked cricket last year.

The decision came on the 20th day of the trial and after 16 hours of deliberation by the jury. But they will remain out on bail till the quantum of their punishment is decided by the court in a couple of days.

The developments caps a series of controversies that have haunted Pakistan cricket, including match-fixing allegations against them in the 2000 scandal.

The third accused, 19-year-old pacer Mohammad Aamir, who was also involved in the conspiracy, did not face trial as he had pleaded guilty.

Butt faces upto seven years in prison for his role in the scandal which broke out after a sting by the now-defunct tabloid ‘News of the World’ revealed that the duo had conspired with alleged bookie Mazhar Majeed to send down deliberate no balls during the Lord’s Test against England.

Tuesday’s verdicts are on three of the four charges as on the fourth accusation of Asif’s acceptance of corrupt payments, the jury returned a hung verdict. The judge has asked the jury to go back into deliberation to decide on the fourth charge.

The scandal goes back to August last year when the duo conspired with Majeed and Aamir to deliver three no-balls during the Lord’s Test.

Butt and Asif had pleaded not guilty to the charges and the duo sat quietly in the dock when the verdicts were delivered. The judge had said that he was prepared to accept a 10-2 majority verdict in the case.

Prosecutors said Butt and Asif had been motivated by greed to “contaminate” a match watched by millions of people and “betray” their team, the Pakistan Cricket Board and the sport itself. Prosecutor Aftab Jafferjee QC said the case “revealed a depressing tale of rampant corruption at the heart of international cricket”. Neither man showed any discernible reaction as the verdicts were read out, staring straight ahead as the jury announced their fate. (PTI)


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