Salman Butt returns to Pakistan, pleads innocence in spot-fixing row

Salman Butt spoke to the media at the Allama Iqbal international airport in Lahore on his return AFP

Lahore: Jun 22, 2012

Pakistan‘s disgraced former captain Salman Butt on Friday returned to a tumultuous reception after serving seven months of a 30-month prison sentence for spot-fixing in the United Kingdom and pleaded his innocence.

Held guilty for his involvement in spot-fixing during Pakistan’s tour to England in 2010, Butt insisted that his only mistake was “failure to report” advances from a bookie.

“I have never entertained any offer, nothing ever practically happened in a match that was linked to any offer of spot-fixing or any fixing, I never asked anyone to do anything or bowl any no-balls, I am not associated with it,” Butt told reporters at the Allama Iqbal international airport.

The former Test opener admitted his only blunder was not to report the advances made to him by the bookmaker Mazhar Majeed, who is still in jail.

“That was my mistake and I should have told the authorities immediately but I have paid a heavy price for this,” he said.

“I have served a sentence for that and I have also apologised to the ICC for this,” he added.

Butt, whose family was at the airport to greet him in tears, said he didn’t report the advances for two to three months since he knew the person.

“I had hoped that my former sporting agent Mazhar Majeed would realise the wrongdoing and correct his ways. To the people of Pakistan, all the cricketers, those who support us and make us stars, I apologise, but for failure to report,” Butt asserted.

Pressed for answers by the media which had waited to talk to him for more than an hour after his flight landed, Butt said he would sit with his legal team and hold a press conference to explain everything.

He also made it clear he had not lost hope of playing for Pakistan again and wanted to come back as a a “good person, a good Pakistani, and as a good cricketer.”

In response to a question he said he felt very good to have returned home. “No place like Pakistan.”

Butt is presently also serving a minimum five year ban from the ICC anti-corruption tribunal for the same offence.

Butt and fellow teammates — Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer — were given different jail sentences last year in October by a crown court in London for their role in the spot-fixing scandal.

At that time Butt was the Test captain.

Asif and Aamer have already been released from jail this year after serving short terms.

Butt got the longest jail term of the trio for accepting corrupt payments to set up no balls during the fourth Test at Lord’s. (PTI)