Pak trio charged with conspiracy, faces trial in UK

Last Updated: Feb 05, 2011, 08:39 AM IST

London: The tainted Pakistan trio of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir will face a trial after they were charged with conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments by the UK prosecution service in the spot-fixing scandal that rocked world cricket last year.

The three cricketers, who have been suspended since September last by International Cricket Council, were today issued summons by Britain`s Crown Prosecution Service to a first hearing at City of Westminster Magistrates` Court on March 17.

Bookmaker Mazhar Majeed, who made the revelation in a `News of the World` sting operation that the three players took money to bowl deliberate no-balls during the Lord`s Test between Pakistan and England in August last year, was also charged with the same offences.

This comes after the three players and Majeed were interrogated by London Metropolitan Police. Majeed was arrested but later released. A third fast bowler, Wahab Riaz, was also interrogated.

"We have decided that Mohammad Aamer, Mohammad Asif, Salman Butt and their agent, Mazhar Majeed, should be charged with conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments and also conspiracy to cheat," Simon Clements, head of the CPS Special Crime Division, said.

"These charges relate to allegations that Majeed accepted money from a third party to arrange for the players to bowl `no balls` on 26 and 27 August 2010, during Pakistan`s fourth Test at Lord`s Cricket Ground in London.”

"I would remind everyone that these men are entitled to a fair trial and should be regarded as innocent of these charges unless it is proven otherwise in court. ICC tribunal is due to announce its decision tomorrow, but criminal proceedings are active now. It is extremely important that nothing should be reported which could prejudice the trial," he said.

The framing of the charges came just a day before an International Cricket Council tribunal announces its conclusions on the case in Doha tomorrow. The tribunal interrogated the players over 45 hours in Doha last month.

Clements said his organisation, which was responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by British police, believed it had sufficient evident to convict the players and they could be subject to extradition proceedings if they do not return to Britain next month.

"Majeed has been summonsed to appear for a first hearing at City of Westminster Magistrates` Court on 17 March. Summonses for the same court date have been issued for the three players and they have been asked to return to this country voluntarily, as they agreed to do in September last year. Their extradition will be sought should they fail to return," Clements said.

"The Crown Prosecution Service has been working closely with the Metropolitan Police Service since the allegations of match-fixing became public on 29 August 2010. We received a full file of evidence on 7 December 2010 and we are satisfied there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and it is in the public interest to prosecute," he said.

The players have been suspended by ICC from all forms of cricket since September 3 after the British tabloid alleged they bowled no-balls at prearranged times during the fourth Test at Lord`s to fix spot-betting markets.

The trio was alleged to have obtained 150,000 pounds (USD 241,000) through Majeed who was believed to have accepted 50,000 pound to set up the deal.