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Page last updated at 15:46 GMT, Sunday, 5 September 2010 16:46 UK

Pakistan trio should be banned if guilty says Hasan

Salman Butt (right), Mohammad Asif (centre) and Mohammad Amir (left) leave their hotel on 1 September
Butt (right), Asif (centre) and Amir are currently under investigation

Pakistan High Commissioner Wajid Shamsul Hasan says the three cricketers accused of spot-fixing should receive life bans from cricket if found guilty.

Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir are being probed by police and the International Cricket Council (ICC).

"If the News of the World evidence is correct, then I would banish them from cricket," Hasan told BBC Radio 5 live.

Later on Sunday batsman Yasir Hameed was questioned at the Pakistan High Commission over the betting scandal.

In its latest revelations, the News of the World claimed that Hameed spoke to the newspaper about other Pakistani cricketers' involvement in match-fixing.

However, Hameed denied speaking to the tabloid, although the News of the World has since published a video interview with the Pakistan batsman.

The News of the World also claims the ICC is investigating an unnamed fourth man over match-fixing claims - a more serious charge than the spot-fixing claims faced by Butt, Asif and Amir.

Spot betting involves gamblers staking their money on the minutiae of sporting encounters, such as whether the first ball of a cricket match will be a wide or a no-ball.

An ICC spokesman said: "We are making no comment regarding the suggestion that the ICC is probing a fourth player.

"We do not comment on ongoing investigations, we will not revealing any details about the charges [faced by Butt, Asif and Amir]," added the ICC spokesman after the News of the World reported that the three men were facing a total of 23 charges.

The Metropolitan Police said it is not investigating a fourth player, while the Pakistan Cricket Board was not immediately available for comment ahead of Sunday's first Twenty20 international between England and Pakistan in Cardiff.

Test skipper Butt and fast bowlers Asif and Amir have been suspended and charged by the ICC.

Commissioner Hasan insisted the trio are "innocent until proven guilty". "That was my stance from day one and I still maintain it," he told 5 live's Sportsweek.

Pakistan team should have returned home - Lamb

"We questioned them and all my colleagues that talked to them said that, yes, apparently they are innocent.

"But we're not police investigators - it's up to the police to find out if they're guilty."

ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat has revealed that none of the trio have been interviewed by his organisation after police warned doing so could prejudice the criminal investigation.

Lorgat also told BBC Radio 5 live's Sportsweek programme that ICC action would be "prompt and decisive".

"If people are found guilty, the consequences will be severe," Lorgat added. "The maximum sentence is a life ban but I don't want to prejudge any guilt or any sanction.

Lorgat admitted, however, that in 18-year-old Amir's case, age could be a mitigating factor, if he is found guilty.

"If I'm giving my own personal view, age could come into account, But an independent tribunal will have to decide on that."

In a separate development, the BBC understands that wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal has been contacted in writing by the ICC, though there is no suggestion that he is the fourth player and it is not in relation to incidents in the recent fourth Test at Lord's.

During that match, Asif and Amir are alleged to have bowled three no-balls between them at pre-determined times to facilitate betting coups, a practice called spot-fixing, after agent Mazhar Majeed was reported to have accepted £150,000 from an undercover reporter from the News of the World, who published the story on 28 August.

BBC Sport understands that serial numbers on bank notes seized by the police after searching the cricketers' hotel rooms tally with those recorded by the tabloid given to Majeed.

Former Pakistan batsman Younis Ahmed insists greed could be the only possible motivation for any of his country's stars to become involved in corruption.

He told BBC Radio 5 live: "I can tell you they are paid handsomely and they are all living well. They all drive four-by-fours, they have got their homes and they have invested money - they are not short of money, believe me.

"Some of them are getting a bit greedy to make a quick buck."

Younis said the reports had been greeted with anger in Pakistan, which has been ravaged in recent weeks by floods that have claimed many lives.

"Pakistanis are totally furious and very disappointed by what they have read in the papers and the way this is being reported in the media," he added.

"All the floods that Pakistan had - 16 million people without their homes, belongings, their livestock destroyed and their livelihoods at stake - this was the last thing they were expecting."

Meanwhile, Croydon Athletic - the football club co-owned by Majeed, has announced that manager Tim O'Shea and his assistant Neil Smith have left with immediate effect.

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see also
Pakistan trio keen to see row end
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Cricket scandal hits Croydon team
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Pakistan scandal takes new twist
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England want Pakistan player ban
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Aussies 'approached' by bookmaker
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Pakistan face calls for life bans
30 Aug 10 |  Cricket
Pakistani anger at another cricket scandal
31 Aug 10 |  South Asia

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