Butt, Asif found guilty, face jail

November 1st, 2011 - 9:17 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Nov 1 (IANS) Pakistan’s tainted crickters Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif face jail as the Southwark Crown Court here Tuesday found them guilty of conspiracy to cheat and accept corrupt payments.

Butt was held guilty on two counts - conspiracy to accept corrupt payments and cheat - while fast bowler Asif was found guilty of conspiracy to cheat. According to reports, the pair showed no reaction as the jury’s verdict was read out. The duo plotted to deliberately bowl no-balls during a Lord’s Test match in 2010 against England.

Bowler Mohammad Aamir had already pleaded guilty to the charges.

The court heard the two players, along with Aamir, and London-based sports agent Mazhar Majeed, 36. They quartet was involved in fixing parts of the Lord’s Test.

Both Asif and Butt had denied conspiracy to cheat and accept corrupt payments but the jury at the Southwark Crown Court here found them guilty of conspiring to cheat. The verdicts came on the 20th day of the trial and required 16 hours of deliberation from the 12-man jury. The judge is likely to hand down the sentencing Thursday.

The verdicts were reached on three of the four charges, but the jury were divided on the fourth charge and returned to debate whether Asif accepted corrupt payments. Butt faces up to a maximum of seven years in prison for his role during the spot-fixing scam which was exposed following a sting operation by the now-defunct newspaper News of the World.

Prosecutors said that the tainted cricketers were motivated by greed to “contaminate” a match that was watched by millions all over the world and also betray the sport, the national team and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

Prosecutor Aftab Jafferjee said the case “revealed a depressing tale of rampant corruption at the heart of international cricket”.

The cricketers were suspended by the International Cricket Council (ICC) in February for their role in spot-fixing. Butt was banned for 10 years while Asif and Aamir were suspended for seven and five years after they were found guilty by an independent tribunal comprising Michael Beloff QC, Sharad Rao and Justice Albie Sachs in Doha.

Former ICC president Ehsan Mani, a Pakistani, said the two players should be made an example for others.

“These two players should be made an example for others. It is a strong message to PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board). Things were not in order. It is not acceptable for everyone, including the cricket lovers of Pakistan. However, I feel the menace is not confined to Pakistan. The cricketers of other countries are also involved,” he said.

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