Cricket: Pakistan's Butt, Aamer lose fixing appeals

23rd November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Disgraced Pakistan players Salman Butt and Mohammad Aamer lost their appeals Wednesday against their jail sentences for spot-fixing, with England's top judge saying they had "betrayed" their country.

Lord Chief Justice Igor Judge said their "notorious" case was a "carefully prepared" corruption conspiracy which merited a "criminal sanction".

On November 3, former Test captain Butt, 27, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison and promising fast bowler Aamer, 19, was ordered to serve six months in a young offenders' institution.

The pair were not present at the Court of Appeal in London for the hearing before Lord Judge, the head of the English judiciary, and two other judges.

They dismissed the appeals in which Butt's lawyer argued that the former skipper's sentence was "manifestly excessive", and Aamer's lawyer urged the court to suspend his sentence.

In a scandal that shook the sport, Butt, Aamer and fast bowler Mohammad Asif, 28, were all jailed for their parts in fixing elements of the August 2010 Test match against England at Lord's.

Their British agent agent Mazhar Majeed was also jailed.

The case hinged on the balling of pre-arranged no-balls, which could then be bet upon.

Lord Judge said the conspiracy "was not set up on the spur of the moment and it was not the result of some temptation to which either appellant succumbed, in effect, on the spur of the moment".

"These three cricketers betrayed their team, they betrayed the country which they had the honour to represent and betrayed the sport that had given them their distinction -- and of course betrayed all the very many followers of the game throughout the world."

He said the court had to make clear that what the cricketers did was "not simply a matter of breaking the rules of the game" and therefore subject to internal discipline and regulation.

"It is also criminal conduct of a very serious kind which must be marked with a criminal sanction," he said.

Butt's lawyer Ali Bajwa had argued that the former captain's sentence was "out of proportion to the seriousness of the offence that was committed".

Although serious, it was at the "lower end of the scale" of such offences.

Bajwa described Butt as a broken man in a state of "ruin and disgrace".

"The very fact of conviction and imprisonment amounted to exceptional punishment for Mr Butt," he said.

Butt's wife gave birth to a baby boy just 30 minutes before the trial verdict.

Aamer's lawyer Henry Blaxland had urged the judges to impose a suspended sentence of a length that would enable his immediate release.

Asif and Butt were found guilty charges of conspiracy to cheat at gambling and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments after a trial, while Aamer and Majeed admitted the charges.

The four will serve half their sentences before being released on licence.

The fixing plot was uncovered by the News of the World, the Rupert Murdoch-owned British tabloid which was shut down in July over the phone-hacking scandal.

© 2011 AFP

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