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 rightly 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 bowling of pre-arranged no-balls, which could then be bet upon.

"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," Lord Judge said.

He said their actions went beyond breaking the rules of the game. It was also "criminal conduct of a very serious kind which must be marked with a criminal sanction".

"In exchange for the privilege and distinction of playing Test cricket, what was required of them was that at all times they should perform honestly and play to the best of their respective abilities -- no more, and certainly no less."

If that could not be guaranteed, for financial reasons, the enjoyment in watching cricket "will eventually be destroyed".

The judge called Butt a "malign influence" without whom "this corruption could not have occurred".

"His duty as captain, when there was the faintest whiff of corruption, was to step in and stop it," he said.

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

Butt, Aamer and Asif have also been banned by the International Cricket Council from playing the sport for five years.

Lord Judge said Aamer was a "prodigious young talent with huge potential" that might be "irreparably damaged" by his time out of the game.

"This is, of course, his own loss and cricket will also be the poorer for the loss."

However, "a short, immediate prison sentence was necessary and appropriate".

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".

He 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.

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.

© 2011 AFP

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