LONDON: A British court has handed down jail terms to three Pakistan cricketers and an agent for fixing parts of a test match against England at Lord’s.
Former captain Salman Butt received 2 1/2 years, the longest term of the three players. Mohammad Asif was sentenced to 1 year, while 19-year-old Mohammad Amir will serve six months.
Agent Mazhar Majeed was sentenced to 2 years, 8 months. All four may be released for good behavior after serving half their terms.
The players were found guilty of conspiring with Majeed to bowl deliberate no-balls as part of a betting scam during the match last year.
The sentences were handed down Thursday by a judge at Southwark Crown Court.
LONDON (PTI): The judge, who convicted the three Pakistan cricketers and their agent for spot-fixing, on Wednesday deferred the pronouncement of sentences for Thursday after the lawyers pleaded for leniency in the quantum of punishment.
Judge Jeremy Cooke said after a day-long hearing filled with drama that he would announce sentences to former Test captain Salman Butt, fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir and their agent Majhar Majeed on Thursday.
The announcement came after the lawyers of the four convicted pleaded not to hand harsh punishments but only the minimum sentences to their clients.
Majeed’s lawyer pointed fingers on Butt saying that the former Test captain was the main culprit in the betting scam.
"In the summer of 2009, it was Butt who initiated a discussion with Majeed for a possible fixing in the Twenty20 World Cup in England (which Pakistan won). He (Butt) told Majeed that he can ask his players to do spot-fixing," Majeed’s lawyer told the court.
Majeed’s lawyer also said that Butt gave his client a telephone number of allegedly an Indian by the name of Sanjay.
"Majeed met Sanjay at a hotel in Parkland in Central London and discussed about any possible gambling during the Twenty20 World Cup in England but finally turned out to be a non-starter," he said.
He also said that Sanjay was in regular touch with Majeed during Pakistan’s tour of England last year during which the spot-fixing scandal came to rock the cricketing world.
He expressed, through his lawyer "extreme remorse" and "that he was devastated" for his actions "which had brought pain to his family for no fault of theirs".
Majeed, 36, admitted conspiracy to cheat and to obtain and accept corrupt payments during a pre-trial hearing in September but that fact could not be reported till Wednesday due to court restrictions.
Butt, through his lawyer, sought leniency on the ground that his family life will be irreversibly damaged if sentenced.
"His life would be ruined and damaged irreversibly if he is sentenced in the case. He does not want his family to suffer and will not even be able to see his new-born son if he is sentenced. Besides his marriage will also be in trouble," Butt’s lawyer said at the Southwark Crown Court.
Asif’s lawyer took the plea that his client should be handed a lesser punishment as there was no proven evidence that he got any money in the whole scandal.
"My client has a lot of talent and if he is given a long punishment his career will be finished," the lawyer said.
Teenage fast bowler Amir while pleading guilty said that he got trapped.
"My client feels he is being trapped but he doesn’t blame anyone. He accepts any decision of court," Amir’s lawyer said. (AP)