Cricket: Judge's verdict on fixers

3rd November 2011, Comments 0 comments

A British judge on Thursday sentenced Pakistan cricketers Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer to jail terms along with their agent Mazhar Majeed.

Here are extracts from Judge Jeremy Cooke's remarks on sentencing the four at Southwark Crown Court in London:


-- Sentence: Two-and-a-half years.

Cooke said he did not think the no-balls he was being sentenced for were "isolated incidents".

He said Butt, a "natural captain" and a well-educated "man of status", was clearly "the orchestrator" who bore "the major responsibility" for the corruption.

He blamed Butt for involving the teenage Aamer, who would be inclined to follow his captain's orders, especially when it was "part of the common culture".

Corruption "may have been more widespread" and "permeated the team" beforehand but Cooke had not seen direct evidence.

If so, Butt "perpetuated such an atmosphere of corruption".

He said Butt had done "a terrible thing" which showed his true character and would likely end his career.

The judge said he had taken into account the fact that Butt's wife gave birth on Tuesday and the family was reliant on his financial support.

The former Test captain's cricket ban "enables me to take a more lenient course" than the four-year jail term he might have given, Cooke added.


-- Sentence: One year.

Cooke said Asif's culpability was less than that of Butt and Majeed and limited to bowling one no-ball.

"You bowled a no-ball in order to obtain payment and in order to assist others to cheat at gambling," the judge said.

He said there was no evidence of his prior involvement in fixing but it was clear Majeed had "every confidence" in him taking part and it was "hard to see how this could be an isolated occurrence".

He said Asif's ban from playing cricket meant his career was also effectively over, and therefore enabled a more lenient sentence.

However, "these crimes of which you have been convicted require that a sentence be imposed which marks them for what they are and acts as a deterrent for any future cricketers who may be tempted".


-- Sentence: Three months.

Cooke gave Aamer credit for pleading guilty, saying "it took courage to do so". Without the plea, he would have received a nine-month sentence.

But the judge rejected Aamer's claim that his only involvement was bowling two no-balls at Lord's, as a result of pressure including threats to him and his family, and fears for his future.

"The reality of those threats and the strength of the underworld influences who control unlawful betting abroad" was witnessed in the evidence, Cooke said.

He said Aamer came from a village background where life was hard.

"Compared with others, you were unsophisticated, uneducated and impressionable. You were only 18 at the time and readily leant on by others," he said.

"I am clear that you bear less responsibility than your captain who influenced you," he said, but Aamer agreed to do it nonetheless.

There was evidence that he had been involved in discussions on fixing around the preceding Test at The Oval, though there was "no evidence" it occurred.

His cricket ban will "create problems" in returning to the game.

-- MAZHAR MAJEED, agent to several Pakistan players

-- Sentence: Two-and-a-half years.

Cooke rejected Majeed's claims that he was just boasting about fixing to the undercover journalist who exposed the scam.

"You said it had been going on for years," the judge recounted, adding that the agent and Butt were the "architects of the fixing".

It seems Majeed took the "lion's share of the cash" and the three no-balls cited in court were "only part of the corrupt activities" he was involved in.

Majeed had said he had been fixing within the Pakistan team for about two-and-a-half years and was involved with fixing for other people, the judge said, although he could not say if this was just the tip of the iceberg.

It was clear the agent was passing on information to contacts in India and Dubai, "all part of your corrupt activity" to defraud bookmakers in different markets, Cooke said.

Majeed had decided, as witnessed in an email, "to make as much money as you could from the game of cricket -- by corrupting those involved", he said.

Majeed would have received four years in jail if not for his guilty plea.

© 2011 AFP

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