Pakistan court summons cricketers for treason

LAHORE: A Pakistan court on Tuesday summoned seven national cricket players, the country’s sports minister and its cricket chief to face treason charges over fixing allegations in England.

The chief justice of the High Court in the eastern city of Lahore said those under investigation in England, plus sports minister Ijaz Jakharani and Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ejaz Butt must appear on September 7.

Local lawyer Ishtiaq Ahmed filed the treason case on Monday, calling for life bans and confiscation of all the players’ assets if they are found guilty. The charge carries a maximum death penalty.

The cricketers are alleged to have been paid to bowl no-balls at pre-determined times in a spot-fixing scam in the fourth Test against England, which Pakistan lost by an innings on Sunday.

Usually in Pakistan, court procedures are long and decisions takes years while a legal expert said if the accused fail to appear three times in a row a ruling could be made in absentia.

"The case is based only on allegations. We do not expect a hurried decision," Azhar Siddique, a local lawyer said.

The seven national team players include Test team captain Salman Butt, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Aamer, plus three unnamed players, who are all accused in the sting by British Sunday tabloid the News of the World.

Police have bailed a bookmaker, Mazhar Majeed, who is alleged to be the middleman in the scam.(AFP)

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