Cricket: Court verdicts are clear warning to players: ICC

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The International Cricket Council on Tuesday said the guilty verdicts handed down to two Pakistani cricketers in the spot-fixing case in England is a further warning to players who might be tempted to engage in corrupt activity within the sport.

"ICC takes no pleasure from the fact that these players stepped outside not only the laws of the game but also of the country in which they were participating," ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said at a press conference.

Former Pakistan Test captain Salman Butt and fast bowler Mohammad Asif were found guilty earlier on Tuesday of involvement in a "spot-fixing" betting scam during a match against England last year.

While they had pleaded not guilty another pace bowler Mohammad Aamer had admitted the charges of conspiracy to cheat and to accept corrupt payments,

Lorgat said the players stepped outside the laws.

"The ICC takes no pleasure from the fact that these players stepped outside not only the laws of the game but also the criminal laws of the country in which they were participating," said Lorgat.

In a case that rocked the world of cricket, Butt, 27, was convicted by a jury in London of conspiracy to accept corrupt payments and conspiracy to cheat at gambling, while Asif, 28, was also found guilty on the same charges.

Prosecutors alleged they conspired with British agent Mazher Majeed and fast bowler Aamer to bowl three intentional no-balls during the Lord's Test between Pakistan and England in August 2010.

Both could face a maximum jail sentence of up to seven years and two years on respective counts. They are expected to be sentenced later this week.

The ICC chief executive said the court verdict will not have any impact on the bans handed by the governing body.

"To be clear, the developments in the English criminal courts will have no impact upon those periods of suspension, which will remain in full force and effect," said Lorgat of the bans imposed by the ICC.

Butt and Asif along with Aamer have already been punished by the ICC after a disciplinary hearing in Doha, Qatar, in February this year.

Butt was banned for ten years (five suspended), Asif for seven years (two suspended) and Aamer for five years.

All three players have filed appeals against their bans at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Lorgat refused to take any questions.

"Of course, we note that the Judge is yet to determine the appropriate sentence for each of the three players so I do not comment further in that regard," said Lorgat.

Lorgat warned that such conduct constitutes criminal action.

"In addition to constituting offences under the ICCs Anti-Corruption Code, for which sporting sanctions have been imposed, such conduct has now been shown to constitute criminal behaviour for which serious criminal sanctions can also be imposed."

Lorgat said it was satisfying to work with the Crown Prosecution Service and Metropolitan Police.

"I believe that this case has shown that it is possible for criminal authorities and sports bodies to cooperate with each other, in difficult circumstances, in the best interests of the sport and the public at large."

Lorgat said the ICC will continue to have zero tolerance.

"I would reiterate that the ICC has a zero-tolerance attitude towards corruption and ensure that any suggestion of corrupt activity within our game is comprehensively investigated and, where appropriate, robustly prosecuted.

"We have always said that we will continue to explore every possible avenue to ensure that cricket is free from corrupt activity. That is precisely what we have done in this case."

© 2011 AFP

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