Cricket: Butt and Aamer appeal against sentences

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Jailed Pakistan players Salman Butt and Mohammad Aamer on Wednesday urged England's top judge to reduce their jail sentences for their part in a betting scam that rocked the world of cricket.

Former Test captain Butt, 27, was on November 3 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' institute.

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

Butt's lawyer Ali Bajwa argued that the former skipper's sentence was "manifestly excessive", while Henry Blaxland, representing Aamer, urged the court to suspend his sentence.

Bajwa argued that Butt'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.

Blaxland urged the judges to impose a suspended sentence of a length that would enable his immediate release.

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

Their Pakistan teammate Mohammad Asif and their British agent Mazhar Majeed were also jailed.

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.

Cricket agent Mazhar Majeed was also jailed.

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.

Under the current arrangements, 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 over a phone-hacking scandal in July this year.

© 2011 AFP

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