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Page last updated at 10:27 GMT, Saturday, 4 September 2010 11:27 UK

Pakistan trio eager for corruption claim row to end


Pakistan players have 'case to answer' - ICC

The Pakistan players at the centre of the corruption row want a "timely and satisfactory outcome" to the affair.

Police questioned Mohammad Amir, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif on Friday over claims deliberate no-balls were bowled in the fourth Test with England.

"At no time were they placed under arrest, they were free to leave at any time," said lawyer Elizabeth Robertson.

"They answered questions put to them and were released without charge or conditions," she added.

The trio were quizzed separately by detectives in Kilburn in north London on Friday in the aftermath of allegations published in the News of the World newspaper last Sunday.

They have also been provisionally suspended by the International Cricket Council for "alleged irregular behaviour", and charged with various offences by the ICC following the match which England won by an innings and 225 runs to seal a 3-1 series triumph.

The ICC has yet to speak to the players after agreeing it would wait until given permission by the Metropolitan Police.

Asif and Amir are alleged to have bowled three no-balls between them at pre-determined times to facilitate betting coups after a "middle-man" was reported to have accepted £150,000 from an undercover reporter from the News of the World, who published the story on Sunday.

Pakistan's most senior diplomat in Britain, High Commissioner Wajid Hasan, has criticised the ICC's actions, saying they are "playing to the gallery."

No grounds for ICC player charges - Hasan

"I met the cricketers for two hours, cross-questioned them, got to the bottom of it and concluded that they were innocent, and that's what I said to the media," he told Radio 4's Today programme.

"They [the ICC] have done the wrong thing. When there's a live police inquiry, this takes precedence over both the ICC, civil or regulatory investigations and any disciplinary investigations.

"To take action now is unhelpful, premature and unnecessary considering the players had already voluntarily withdrawn from playing.

"The ICC had no business to take this action. The ICC is just playing to the public gallery."

He later renewed his attack when it emerged the ICC had removed Amir and Asir from the list of nominees for its 2010 awards.

Amir was nominated in the emerging player of the year category, while Asif was nominated for Test player of the year.

"What happened to the general principle of law 'innocent until proven guilty'?" he said.

"After the shocking, arbitrary and high-handed suspension of the three Pakistani cricketers through the ICC's uncalled-for action, nothing is coming to me as a surprise.

"In the interest of justice and fair play... no other investigation should be started until the British police, who have primacy in the matter, have completed their investigation."

ICC anti-corruption boss Sir Ronnie Flanagan says he feels the trio 'have a really arguable case to answer' but denied there was any suggestion that this was a sign of widespread corruption in the sport.

"They [Butt, Asif and Amir] have a really arguable case to answer in our disciplinary arena but that is not the same as coming, in any sense, to a finding of guilt on their behalf.

Imran Khan said it was right that the cricketers were provisionally suspended by the ICC

"Priority must be given to the criminal investigation.

"I do not see this as the tip of an iceberg but I think it is something from which we must learn," he continued.

The ICC also revealed its current investigation could be extended to cover the country's dramatic collapse against Australia in Sydney earlier this year.

"We will be examining all the evidence that is brought before us in this particular case, we will go where the evidential trail takes us," added Flanagan.

"If there is new evidence then we will examine that with the investigative countries at any given country and that could be the case with Australia."

Australia held an 80-run lead with only two wickets in hand at the start of day four of the Test in January before Mike Hussey hit an unbeaten 134 to set Pakistan a victory target of 176.

Spinner Nathan Hauritz then tore through the tourists' batting line-up to seal a 36-run win for Australia in a match which at one point looked destined to give Pakistan a comprehensive victory.

Butt, Asif and Amir have been charged under "Article 2 of the ICC Anti-Corruption Code for Players and Player Support Personnel", and in accordance with the provisions of that code, have been barred from playing until the case has been concluded.

They have 14 days to appeal, although Flanagan conceded the complexity of the case, which he does not expect to be concluded "for weeks", could lead to the deadline being extended.

"We will not tolerate corruption in cricket - simple as that," stressed ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat.

"We must be decisive with such matters and if proven, these offences carry serious penalties up to a life ban.

"The ICC will do everything possible to keep such conduct out and we will stop at nothing to protect the sport's integrity.

"While we believe the problem is not widespread, we must always be vigilant.

"It is important, however, that we do not pre-judge the guilt of these three players. That is for the independent tribunal alone to decide."

Butt, Asif and Amir have been officially notified of the offences they are alleged to have committed.


Any player ultimately found to be guilty of committing an offence under the code would be subject to the sanctions described in the ICC's Anti-Corruption Code for Players and Player Support Personnel.

That could mean upholding the player's indefinite ban with the possibility, at the discretion of an independent tribunal, of additional fines.

Details of the date of the tribunal hearing are still to be finalised.

West Indies batsman Marlon Samuels recently completed a two-year ban imposed by the ICC after passing on team information to a bookmaker during a one-day series in India in January 2007, although the 29-year-old denies any wrongdoing.

Batsman Asad Shafiq and fast bowler Mohammad Irfan, who is reportedly around 7ft tall, have been called up by Pakistan as cover for the suspended players.

Shafiq and Irfan are currently on tour with the Pakistan A team in Sri Lanka and are expected to arrive in England next week. The team's management will decide at a later stage if another replacement is needed.

Pakistan team manager Yawar Saeed, 75, was taken to hospital with a minor facial injury on Friday after stumbling as he got off the team's coach in Cardiff.

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