Cricketer Asif innocent till charged: Pakistan board

June 3rd, 2008 - 10:28 pm ICT by IANS  

By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, June 3 (IANS) Backing Pakistani player Mohammad Asif, arrested in Dubai on charges of drug possession, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Tuesday said the pacer was innocent till formally charged by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities. “We are hopeful that the matter would be resolved soon and the whole affair would prove to be a big mistake,” PCB chief operating officer Shafqat Naghmi told a press conference in Lahore.

He said PCB considered him innocent until UAE authorities file a charge sheet against him.

“So far he has not been charge sheeted and we are in touch with the authorities there,” he said.

The cricketer was detained by customs authorities at the Dubai airport Sunday while he was on his way to Lahore from Mumbai via Dubai. He was returning after playing for Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League (IPL) semi-final against Rajasthan Royals in Mumbai Friday.

Naghmi said UAE authorities had conducted some tests and the substance recovered from Asif had been sent for laboratory tests. He said the situation will become clearer after the test-results are received.

Asked why there was a delay in getting the results of the tests, Naghmi said he could not answer this as Dubai authorities were supervising the matter.

Naghmi confirmed that he had spoken to Asif adding he was hopeful that Asif will soon return home. “If that happens, that itself would be an indication that he is innocent. So there would be no question of taking any disciplinary action against him.”

But if Asif is named in a charge sheet, Naghmi said: “I am afraid he then has to face a case under the laws of the UAE and action by the PCB as well.”

If found guilty, Asif faces a minimum four-year jail sentence. The UAE, along with other Gulf countries, has a zero-tolerance policy on drugs possession.

The pacer, earlier banned for a year for drug use, could be banned for life if the charges are proved.

The PCB official said the board had sent one of its top officials to Dubai and also hired a leading legal firm, Angel and Afridi, to manage the case.

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