'Grief-stricken' Butt family postpones wedding
The family of Pakistan's disgraced former captain Salman Butt was so grief-stricken Friday over his 30-month sentence for corruption in Britain that it postponed his sister's wedding.
The 27-year-old bowler who once delighted millions of Pakistanis with his blistering talent woke up in a British prison with his name tarnished at home and abroad, convicted over cricket's worst fixing scandal in more than 10 years.
His father said his lawyers would file an appeal in London on Friday, but that he was ready to die if his son's guilt is proven.
Unlike the 19-year-old Mohammad Aamer, whom the judge said he corrupted, Butt grew up in relative luxury in the eastern city of Lahore, the eldest of three children born to Zulfikar Ali Butt, who runs a farming business.
His father told AFP his son's conviction was a "big tragedy" for the family and that as a result, he had been forced to postpone his 22-year-old dentistry student daughter's impending nuptials.
"She was scheduled to marry in Lahore this month, but it has been postponed because the family is in a state of shock," he told AFP by telephone.
"Her in-laws understand our grief," he added.
Butt's sisters on Thursday alleged that their brother had been made a scapegoat for a wider conspiracy and was innocent.
"If Salman's involvement is proved and evidence is provided that he took money, I tell the nation that my son Salman and I are ready to be hanged publicly," Zulfikar said.
"I have brought up my children never to do such a thing."
Salman was convicted of conspiring to accept corrupt payments and cheat at gambling, and was fined £30,937 ($49,560) in addition to his jail term.
The judge called him the "orchestrator" and that given his "leadership status", he was "more culpable" than the other two bowlers also sentenced.
But Zulfikar described his son as a "practising Muslim who prays five times a day" and said he was in Saudi Arabia on pilgrimage when Salman telephoned to say that he had been charged after the Lord's Test against England in 2010.
"I immediately asked him: Tell me on oath how much are you involved in this scam? He swore that he was not involved.
"My son does not tell lies. He is very kind and helpful. He never fought with anyone. He is a good natured person.
"He has been trapped in a controversy just to malign the game of cricket and Pakistan. Two other bowlers were also involved because they performed well. The assets of our national team have been sent to jail under a conspiracy."
The father said no one from the Pakistan Cricket Board had contacted the family and nor had anyone expressed sympathy.
© 2011 AFP