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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 January 2008, 10:46 GMT
Harbhajan cleared of racial abuse
Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh arrives for his ICC Code of Conduct appeal hearing at the Federal Court of South Australia in Adelaide, Australia
Harbhajan Singh arrives for his ICC Code of Conduct appeal in Adelaide
Harbhajan Singh has been cleared at an appeal hearing of racially abusing Australia all-rounder Andrew Symonds.

The India spinner had been found guilty of calling Symonds, Australia's only mixed-race player, a "monkey" during the second Test in Sydney this month.

But an appeal hearing ruled there was not enough evidence to convict Harbhajan of racial abuse but charged him with using abusive language.

Harbhajan pleaded guilty and was fined half his match fee and is free to play.

"The racial abuse charges have been dropped," said Niranjan Shah, secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India. "It is finished.

"The punishment is only for using obscene language."

I'm really happy and relieved, not just for Harbhajan, but for cricket

India skipper Anil Kumble

The appeal commissioner of the International Cricket Council, New Zealand high court judge John Hansen, is due to hand down an explanation for his ruling in Adelaide on Wednesday.

It is not clear if he will make recommendations about how such situations, where the word of one team is pitted against the other, can be avoided.

A spokesman for the ICC told BBC Sport senior officials at the governing body would need "a few days to digest what the commisioner says" before making any further comment.

But India have now lifted a threat to pull out of the rest of their tour, allowing their players - all of whom remained in Adelaide for the five-hour hearing - to move on to Melbourne for a Twenty20 game on Friday.

The Indian board and Cricket Australia released a joint statement endorsing the appeal decision.

"Controversy surrounding the incident involving Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds on day three of the Sydney Test has come to a constructive conclusion," it said.

"Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds said they had resolved the on-field issue between them in Sydney and now intend to get on with the game of cricket, which is most important to them.

Alex Trickett - BBC Sport

"Both captains also said they were satisfied with the outcome between their respective players and they looked forward to the cricket battles that lie ahead."

India skipper Anil Kumble added: "It's time to move on. This matter was lingering on for the last two weeks or so, although cricket was being played, but now the matter is settled.

"I'm really happy and relieved, not just for Harbhajan, but for cricket overall. It's time to start concentrating on the game."

Harbhajan's original punishment by match referee Mike Procter came after Australia captain Ricky Ponting made an official complaint about his alleged comments.

On-field umpires Mark Benson and Steve Bucknor levelled a charge under section 3.3 of the ICC code of conduct following Ponting's complaint.

Andrew Symonds
Symonds was at the centre of the incident

The ICC revealed that a letter signed by all the players involved was tendered into evidence as an agreed statement of facts as to what took place during the Sydney Test match.

Video and audio evidence, verbal statements from players and legal submissions were also considered.

"Justice Hansen said that he was convinced that on all evidence submitted before him the charge of a level 3.3 offence was not proven, but that Harbhajan should be charged with a level 2.8 offence," an ICC spokesman said.

At the time of the incident, Harbhajan was batting alongside Sachin Tendulkar, who backed his team-mate's claim that he had not called Symonds a "monkey".

In the aftermath of Procter's decision, India suspended the tour and later warned they might abandon it if Harbhajan's appeal failed, a threat they later withdrew.

BBC sports editor Mihir Bose revealed that the Indians claimed Harbhajan had used a Hindi phrase that could be misheard as "big monkey" in English.

Following Australia's 2-1 victory in the Test series, the sides next face each other in a Twenty20 match in Melbourne before playing in a triangular one-day tournament which also involves Sri Lanka.

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