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Page last updated at 15:30 GMT, Monday, 5 April 2010 16:30 UK

Row threatens Pakistan cricketer Malik's Indian wedding

Indian tennis star Sania Mirza, left and Pakistan"s former cricket captain Shoaib Malik, right, share a moment as they address the media in Hyderabad, India, Monday, April 5, 2010.
The stars' love match is making the headlines

Indian police have seized the passport of Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik, who is to marry Indian tennis star Sania Mirza later this month.

They questioned Malik over allegations that he is already married.

Police say they are conducting a preliminary investigation after the family of another Indian woman said he married her in 2002.

Malik says he was deceived and that the marriage certificate presented by the family was a fake.

The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi says the latest developments have cast a shadow over an unusual cross-border romance that has captivated the people of India and Pakistan.

'Internet friendship'

Malik is in Mirza's home city of Hyderabad in southern India ahead of the wedding planned for 15 April.

Police questioned him in the tennis star's house for almost two hours over charges filed against him by another woman from Hyderabad, Ayesha Siddiqui, who says she is already married to him.

I know, we know what the truth is and it will come out and we believe in justice
Sania Mirza

A police spokesman said that the cricketer had been asked to remain in India while the investigation is carried out.

Malik and Mirza later held an open-air news conference at which he said he was ready to co-operate with the Indian authorities.

"I am here to clear my name, and for that I am not leaving the country," he told reporters.

Sania Mirza gave her support and backed the police investigation.

"I know, we know what the truth is and it will come out and we believe in justice," she said.

In newspaper interviews over the weekend, Malik admitted that he had developed a friendship over the internet with an Indian woman eight years ago and then married her over the telephone after they exchanged photographs.

But he says he eventually discovered that the photographs sent to him were of someone else.

"I was made to believe the girl in the photograph was the one I was speaking to," he said in a statement. "The truth is, I haven't, to this day, met the girl in the photographs Ayesha sent me."

Our correspondent says it is still not clear if his marriage is legally valid even under Islamic law.

Sania Mirza, 23, and Shoaib Malik, 28, announced their wedding last week. The tennis star broke off a previous engagement earlier this year.

While celebrations will be held in both countries, the couple plan to live in Dubai and will continue to represent their respective countries in international sporting ties.



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