Spot-fixing: Pakistani match-fixers pushed behind bars

Zeenews Sports Bureau

London: Three Pakistan cricketers-Salman Butt, Mohd Asif and Mohd Amir-have been handed jail terms for their involvement in spot-fixing controversy that rocked cricket world in August last year.

This is the first instance of cricketers being jailed for match-fixing offence even though a number of cricketers, including the former India captain Mohd Azharuddin, South African skipper Hansy Cronje, former Pakistan captain Salim Malik were all found guilty of being involved in match-fixing.

Former captain Salman Butt got 2 years and 6 months imprisonment while Asif has been jailed for an year.

Another offender Mohd Amir, 19, would be detained for six months for his involvement in the fixing saga. He was originally sentenced to 6 months' imprisonment but had to revise the term to 6 months of detainment at a juvenile offenders' institution.

Bookie Mazhar Majeed has been given 2 years and 8 months jail term by the Southwark Crown
Court in London.

While giving the verdict Judge Jeremy Cook said that the offences were so severe that only imprisonment would suffice.

The three players were also ordered to pay up the prosecution cost of the case. While Butt was asked to fork out 30,937 pounds, Asif and Amir were told to pay 8,120 and 9,389 pounds respectively.

"Now, when people look back at a surprising event in a game or a surprising result or ever in the future there are surprising results, followers of the game who have paid to watch cricket or who have watched cricket on TV will wonder whether there has been a fix or what they have watched was natural," the judge said.

The trio entered the courtroom amid high drama as mediapersons jostled with laymen for seats in what was perhaps the biggest criminal trial involving cricketers and their sentencing ends a year of high drama which has left Pakistan cricket embarrassed.

The saga began in August last year when shocking footage of Majeed claiming that he could fix a Test match for USD one million came to light.

He claimed to have Butt, Asif and Amir on his payroll and revealed how the trio conspired to send down pre-determined no balls during the Lord's Test against England.

The hotel rooms of the cricketers were raided by the police after the sting and cash was recovered which the trio could not explain.

Butt and Asif were accused of spot-fixing following the infamous Lord’s Test against England in 2010 where they conspired with a bookmaker Mazhar Majeed and fast-bowler Mohammad Amir to bowl no-balls at pre-determined times.

Butt was banned for 10 years, five of which suspended, Asif for seven years, while Aamir was suspended for five years by the Pakistan Cricket Board in earlier disciplinary action against the trio.

Spot-fixing Timeline:

Aug 28: Police raid hotel rooms of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir and find cash allegedly paid by British Tabloid 'News of the World during a sting operation on bookie Mazhar Majeed.

Sept 2: ICC suspends Butt, Amir and Asif.

Sept 3: Police interview Butt, Asif and Amir.

Feb 5: ICC bans Butt for 10 years (five suspended), Asif for seven years (two suspended) and Amir for five years.

Feb 26: Amir and Butt appeal bans in Court of Arbitration for Sport, followed by Asif on March 1 but hearings on hold until end of criminal proceedings in England.

Oct 4: Asif and Butt trial begins at Southwark Crown Court.

Nov 1: Butt found guilty of conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments. Asif found guilty of conspiracy to cheat.

Nov 2: Amir appears in court along with Butt and Asif, the first time the three players were in dock in the trial; Majeed also appeared in court after it was revealed that he had pleaded guilty in a pre-trial hearing; Justice Jeremy Cook defers sentencing for next day.

Nov 3: Justice Cook hands jail terms to all the three players and Majeed; Majeed handed two year and eight months jail term, Butt two and a half year, Asif one year and Amir six months.

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