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Monday, February 7, 2011

ICC judgement may not be made public

Mohammad Amir and Salman Butt leave after attending the hearing, Doha, 11 January, 2011

Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir will on Tuesday receive full written judgments on the verdicts and sanctions they were handed by a three-man tribunal on Saturday. Whether the judgment becomes public is, however, still not clear; the ICC is keen to publish it the same day, but complications have arisen in the wake of the decision of the UK's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to press chargesagainst the three.
Butt was banned for 10 years, Asif for 7 and Amir for 5 after they were found guilty by a tribunal headed by Michael Beloff QC, on charges the ICC had brought against them for being involved in the bowling of deliberate no-balls during the fourth Test against England last year. Amir plans to appeal against the decision in the Court of Arbitration for Sport, while Butt has also said he disagrees with the verdict.
On Saturday, a short statement was read out by Beloff, flanked by the other two tribunal members Justice Albie Sachs and Sharad Rao, in which they also urged the ICC to publish the report as soon as possible. The report has become a keenly-awaited document, because it is expected to expand on the reasons given for the verdicts - and, equally importantly, the evidence, put together by the ICC's legal team, that it was based on.
The length of the sanctions has attracted support and criticism alike. But the most intriguing development was the tribunal's recommendation to the ICC to make "certain changes to the code with a view to providing flexibility in relation to minimum sentences in exceptional circumstances." On this point, Amir and Butt have suggested - the former more directly than the latter - that it indicates that the tribunal was willing to give lower sanctions but was bound by the ICC code. The nature of any potential appeals, as well as the feasibility, will become clearer once the report has been seen.
There remains uncertainty over whether the wider public will be able to see how such a landmark case in the game's history unfolded. One day before the tribunal gave its verdict, the CPS announced that the three players, as well as player agent Mazhar Majeed, will face criminal charges in a British court of conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments, and also conspiracy to cheat. All four have been summoned to appear for a first hearing at the City of Westminster Magistrate's court on March 17.
The ICC wants to publish on Tuesday but has been seeking legal advice from Jonathon Caplin QC, a media law specialist, because, as ESPNcricinfo understands, the CPS has "strongly advised" the ICC not to publish the full judgment. The CPS noted in its statement that "particular care needs to be taken to not publish material" which may prejudice a criminal trial.
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