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اتوار، 6 فروری، 2011

Too harsh? Just right? Or too lenient?

An anti-corruption tribunal of the International Cricket Council Saturday banned former Pakistan captain Salman Butt for ten years, Mohammad Asif for seven years and Mohammad Aamer for five years for their role in a spot-fixing betting scam.

A statement read out at the tribunal said: “The tribunal heard the charges as Aamer agreed to bowl no-balls, and did bowl no-balls and Butt was party to the bowling of those deliberate balls, and the tribunal impsoe the following sanctions.

“On Butt ten years ineligibility, five years of which are suspended on the condition that he doesn’t commit further breaches of the code, and that he participates under the auspices Pakistan Cricket Board in a programme of anti-corruption education.

“On Asif, a sanction of seven years of ineligibility, two years of which are suspended on the condition that he commits no further breach of the code and also participates in an anti-corruption programme.

“On Aamer a sanction of five years ineligibility. No further sanctions are imposed on any player.”

The decisions came after a lengthy nine-hour hearing at the Qatar Financial Center, and following much argument after the players’ lawyers requested the verdict be adjourned as it could affect the criminal case against the players in London.

The charges relate to alleged incidents during a Test match against England at Lord’s last year, when Britain’s News of the World newspaper claimed the players were willing to deliberately bowl no-balls.

The newspaper alleged the players, who are currently provisionally suspended from international cricket, had colluded in a spot-fixing betting scam organised by British-based agent Mazhar Majeed.

The members of the tribunal, headed by Michael Beloff, heard the case for six days last month before deferring the announcement on the request of players’ lawyers.

Last month Beloff revealed that while Asif and Aamer were absolved of the charges relating to another match, the third Test at The Oval (played before the Lord’s match) one charge against Butt remained under investigation.

In a separate development on Friday, British prosecutors charged the three players as well as their agent with corruption offences and summoned them in court on March 17.

The Pakistan trio have repeatedly denied wrongdoing and had shown confidence of resuming their careers.

The bans on Pakistan players have come just a fortnight before the tenth World Cup starts in the sub-continent, highlighting the difficult times the game of cricket is facing against corruption.

Cricket was badly hit by the menace of match-fixing in 2000, resulting in life bans on Pakistan’s Salim Malik and Ata-ur Rehman, India’s Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Sharma and South Africa’s Hansie Cronje.

Butt, Aamer and Asif became the first players banned in spot-fixing, the latest innovation in which players obey specific orders during the game pre-arranged with bookmakers.

The players have 21 days to appeal against the sanctions in the Court of Arbitration for Sport, based in Switzerland.

Teenage Pakistan paceman Mohammad Amir said he was shocked and disappointed at being handed a five-year ban on Saturday.

“I am shocked and hugely disappointed. I wasn’t expecting that much of a ban,” Amir told AFP, just minutes after the anti-corruption tribunal of the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced its verdict here.

Former captain Salman Butt was banned for ten years — with five suspended, Mohammad Asif for seven years — with two suspended — and Amir for five years.

The corruption charges relate to alleged incidents during a Test match against England at Lord’s last year, when Britain’s News of the World newspaper claimed the players were willing to deliberately bowl no-balls.

The newspaper alleged the players had colluded in a spot-fixing scam organised by British-based agent Mazhar Majeed.

Amir said he was still confident of being absolved.

“I was confident that I will get away without any punishment, but this is very hard on me.

“I have just come out of the hearing and have told my family who have tried to console me.

“I will sit with my lawyer and decide about appealing against the verdict.”

Amir’s lawyer Shahid Karim had hinted he would try to convince the tribunal that since his client was only 18, and had never committed any violation of the code before, he should be treated leniently. The players have 21 days to appeal against the sanctions in the Court of Arbitration for Sport, based in Switzerland.

On Friday, British prosecutors charged the three players, as well as Majeed, with corruption offences and summoned them to appear in a London court on March 17.

Karim said he is confident that Amir will appeal.

“It’s a sad day for Pakistan cricket,” Karim told AFP.

“I tried my level best, tried all the provisions which could have helped Amir but a five-year ban is too harsh.”

He is shocked, although he put on a brave face but it’s very tough to be consoled,” said Karim, hinting that the CPS’s announcement also changed the scenario.

“It shocked us,” said Karim of Friday’s developments.

“The CPS announcement came a day before the ICC judgment and it changed the scenario of the Doha hearing.”Amir, only 18, was regarded as one of the hottest properties in international cricket and was compared to legendary Pakistani paceman Wasim Akram within two years of his emergence.
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