Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif found guilty in spot-fixing trial

Salman Butt during the trial in London Getty Images

London: Nov 1, 2011

Crisis-struck Pakistan cricket’s image took a severe beating on Tuesday after a court here found former Test captain Salman Butt and pacer Mohammad Asif guilty of spot-fixing charges.

The 12-man jury found Butt guilty of conspiracy to accept corrupt payments and conspiracy to cheat, while Asif was convicted of the charge of conspiracy to cheat.

The decision came on the 20th day of the trial at Southwark Crown Court and required 16 hours of deliberation by the jury.

Butt faces up to seven years in prison for his role in the scandal that shook the core of international cricket last year after a sting by the now-defunct tabloid ‘News of the World’ revealed that the duo had conspired with alleged bookie Mazhar Majeed to send down deliberate no balls during the Lord’s Test against England.

Today’s verdicts are on three of the four charges as on the fourth accusation of Asif’s acceptance of corrupt payments, the jury returned a hung verdict.

Butt and Asif, along with Majeed, were put on trial here after a police raid on their hotel rooms last year led to recovery of cash, which was allegedly paid by the bookmaker.

Teen pacer Mohammad Aamir, who was also involved in the conspiracy, did not face trial as he had reportedly pleaded guilty.

Butt was banned for 10 years, five of which suspended, Asif for seven years, while Aamir was suspended for five years by the Pakistan Cricket Board in earlier disciplinary action against the trio.

The 27-year-old Butt and the 28-year-old Asif will remain out on bail till the quantum of their punishment is decided by the jury later this week.

The scandal goes back to August last year when the duo conspired with Majeed and Aamir to deliver three pre-determined no-balls during the Lord’s Test.

Butt and Asif had pleaded not guilty to the charges and the duo sat quietly in the dock when the verdicts were delivered. The judge had said that he was prepared to accept a 10-2 majority verdict in the case.

During the trial, the jury heard from Mazher Mahmood, the News of the World’s former investigations editor, that he had approached Majeed disguising himself as an Indian businessman.

Majeed, in the course of the sting operation, had claimed that he had six Pakistani players working for him and it would cost just over USD one million to fix a “bracket” — a particular phase of the match.

When confronted with the tapes, Butt had claimed that he ignored Majeed, who was his agent in London, for making such suggestions. (PTI)

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