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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

‘Salman Butt could face long ban by ICC tribunal’

Amir’s lawyer Shahid Karim hinted he may try to use the player’s youth to argue for leniency should he be found guilty. —AP Photo
 A special tribunal of the International Cricket Council (ICC) opened an appeal hearing on Thursday for the three Pakistan players who face possible life bans if found guilty of spot-fixing.
The suspended Salman Butt, Mohammad Aamir and Mohammad Asif, who have previously declared their innocence, made no comments as they entered the hearing room here. But Sharad Rao, a member of the three-member panel overseeing the proceedings and headed by British lawyer Michael Beloff and also includes Justice Albie Sachs from South Africa, said the credibility of the sport was at stake.
“This is an important hearing for the future of cricket,” stated Rao, a former acting attorney general in Kenya, adding that it`s critical the sport`s image is “very clean where we can rely on the results.”
Rao felt the future of cricket was bright, saying: “The future of cricket is good because I think that`s what this exercise is about.”
Significantly, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is not backing the trio and sources in Pakistan said Salman could face the heaviest ban.
They said Salman`s defence was weakened by the fact that they had already changed his lawyers twice while Aamir and Asif would argue that they were following instructions because they feared they would be dropped otherwise.
“The indications are that Salman will get a long ban while Asif and Aamir may escape with shorter ones, like two-year bans each,” one source said.
The trio was alleged to have accepted payment for bowling no-balls at prearranged times in a Test against England in August at Lord`s to fix spot betting markets.
On the closed hearing`s first day, which lasted 7 hours, charges were read and the ICC began presenting its evidence including several witnesses.
The ICC refused to provide any details about what evidence was presented. The hearings in Doha could last until next week.
After the first day, the youngest of the trio, 18-year-old fast bowler Aamir, told a sports website that recent months have been “tough” for him.
“This is a question of my career and I`ve been through some tough days,” he told the website. “I`ve overcome them and I will hopefully overcome more in the future. We`ve prepared well for the case and put in our effort.”
Aamir`s lawyer Shahid Karim hinted he may try to use the player’s youth to argue for leniency should he be found guilty.
“If you look at the ICC code, there could be some advantage with that,” Shahid said. “He [Aamir] is very important to the future of Pakistan and the response we have gotten from people so far, I am very hopeful. You can call our case strong or whatever but I am hopeful.” News of the World
The Dubai-based ICC, which has described the allegations as the sport`s biggest fixing scandal in decades, charged the trio with corruption in September after a British tabloid, the , alleged the players received payments from businessman Mazhar Majeed.
Mazhar, who was also arrested and questioned by police, appeared to accept 150,000 pounds ($241,000) from reporters posing as frontmen for a Far East gambling cartel.
The ICC on Sept 2 charged the players with various offences under its anti-corruption code relating to “alleged irregular behaviour” during the fourth Test against England — charges that could lead to life bans.—Agencies
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