Sentences passed: Teammates to inmates

Published: November 4, 2011

Indignant judge in no mood for leniency; Amir and Butt to appeal. DESIGN: ANAM HALEEM

LONDON: 

Last night, the Pakistan cricket team went to bed wondering how to take the remaining eight Sri Lankan wickets on a flat pitch in Sharjah.

Miles away, Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir lay awake behind bars in London, wondering where it had all gone wrong.

Judge Jeremy Cooke sentenced Butt to 30 months, Asif one year, and their corrupt agent Mazhar Majeed two years and eight months for spot-fixing during the August 2010 Lord’s Test match. Amir was sentenced to six months in a young offenders’ institute.

Amir and Majeed’s guilty pleas, the court heard, had reduced their sentences; the players’ bans from the ICC were also taken into account.

Justice Cooke punctuated his judgment with cutting condemnation, reacting with indignation to the damage they had inflicted on the sport and rebuking them severely for their “greed”.

“These offences, regardless of pleas, are so serious that only a sentence of imprisonment will suffice,” the judge said. The sentences will almost certainly be reduced to half the terms, following good behaviour.

Amir and Butt intend to appeal.

Butt was told to pay £30,937, Amir £9,389, and Asif £8,120 towards the prosecution costs, money which is already in police hands. Majeed was ordered to pay £56,554 within six months.

Majeed collected his suitcase as he was led from the dock, while Asif nodded to a friend in the public gallery before disappearing down to the cells. Butt looked aghast; Amir sunken, a painful contrast to his customary sprightliness on the cricket pitch.

Judge without sympathy

Justice Cooke said the players were motivated solely by personal gain, despite the fortunes they could earn legitimately, and said he hoped the sentences would deter other cricketers and agents from following their “hugely detrimental” example.

The judge also condemned the “insidious effect” of their actions on the sport of cricket itself, “the very name of which used to be associated with fair dealing.” Any surprising event in a cricket match will now be suspect to suspicion, he added.

Justice Cooke reserved his most caustic attack for Butt, who he called the “orchestrator” of fixing within the Pakistan team. He said that given his “leadership status”, he was “more culpable than either of your two bowlers.” The judge also partially blamed Butt for luring Amir, “an 18-year-old from a poverty-stricken village background”, into the scandal.

In an unsettling comment for world cricket, the judge said Majeed, Butt and Amir had clearly discussed fixing outside the sting, terming the case “the tip of the iceberg.” Referring specifically to Asif, he said: “There’s no evidence on your part of prior fixing but it’s hard to see that this could have been an isolated incident.”

Amir tight-lipped as family weeps

I have a lot to say about Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif, but my legal team has stopped me from doing so,” Mohammad Amir told a private TV channel in an interview recorded prior to the sentencing. Amir added that he will disclose more information “when the time is right.”

At her home in Changa Bangial, near Islamabad, Amir’s mother Nasim Akhtar wept on hearing the sentence. “My son is innocent and he did the no-ball at the asking of the captain,” she said.

“He should not have been sentenced after his confession. We were under the impression that he would be released after the imposition of a fine,” said Amir’s brother, 26-year-old Mohammad Ijaz.

Reactions: from the emotional to the bizarre

In Lahore, Butt’s sisters spoke to reporters to defend their brother and claimed he had been made a scapegoat for a wider conspiracy. “The punishment is unfair, it is shocking. Our brother is innocent,” said Khadija outside the family home.

Such fortitude – or delusion – might perhaps be expected from family members. From high-ranking government officials, it is somewhat surprising. Following the news, Interior Minister Rehman Malik vowed that the government will defend the players if they are found innocent, seemingly blind to the guilty verdicts in both the ICC and criminal court hearings.

Talking to the media outside parliament, Malik said that the government will see if the charges against the players are true or if there is a conspiracy against them.

Later, following a meeting with British High Commissioner to Pakistan Adam Thomson, Malik said that a team of the Federal Investigation Agency accompanied by solicitors will go to London to help and assist the three sentenced cricketers.

“The FIA team will see the cases of the cricketers and examine if they could be helped in any way,” said the interior minister.

In his meeting with the high commissioner, the minister requested him to provide the Pakistan government with details of the cases.

(Read: An expected sentencing)

Published in The Express Tribune, November 4th, 2011. 

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Reader Comments (37)

  • Sao Lao
    Nov 4, 2011 - 6:39AM

    I dont understand the logic of putting them behind bars.

    What about those MATCH FIXERS who were just banned for some time
    Is spot-fixing much bigger crime than match-fixing?

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  • AnisAqeel
    Nov 4, 2011 - 7:19AM

    Is it not history making event? We are number one in betrayal to our beloved country. Forget Islam, now compare Money first or Pakistan first!

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  • anybodyagree
    Nov 4, 2011 - 7:53AM

    “I have a lot to say about Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif, but my legal team has stopped me from doing so,” Mohammad Amir told a private TV channel in an interview recorded prior to the sentencing. Amir added that he will disclose more information “when the time is right.”

    you didn’t speak the whole truth that wise you suffer . . .!!!

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  • anybodyagree
    Nov 4, 2011 - 8:05AM

    “He should not have been sentenced after his confession. We were under the impression that he would be released after the imposition of a fine,” said Amir’s brother, 26-year-old Mohammad Ijaz.

    he does confessed the whole truth . . .!!!

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  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Nov 4, 2011 - 9:01AM

    The world looks at us as we are extremists and terrorists, corrupt and compromise with the situation.

    Now the cricketers have given another angle to the world to look at us at “spot-fixers”.

    Being a honest person, I do not want to call myself anymore as Pakistani.

    I am not a coward person who should commit suicide after bearing the burnt of all this non-sense, but want to quietly leave the country and get another passport, as I cannot tolerate any more humiliation caused to me by my own countrymen.

    The history will never forgive the corrupt political leaders, corrupt governments, corrupt government officials and corrupt cricket players.Recommend

  • J Oberoi
    Nov 4, 2011 - 9:17AM

    @Sao Lao: The tainted trio happened to do their “fixing” in a country that has strict laws. They would have gotten away if they had done their fixing in Pakistan, India, Abu Dhabi or the West Indies.

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  • xOYA
    Nov 4, 2011 - 9:23AM

    Im Glad Justice is Done .
    our country can just eat money & lie . atleast abraod u get justice
    .good

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  • Nov 4, 2011 - 9:26AM

    Hope the players learn their lessons and hope other Pakistani players fixing matches are found and punished.

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  • Imran
    Nov 4, 2011 - 9:38AM

    Well done Pakistani cricketer. You have illuminated country’s name. Corruption is every where.Recommend

  • Asim+Ali
    Nov 4, 2011 - 9:46AM

    Sad reflection of the leadership of this country. Rot starts at the top and trickles all the way down. Sports, PIA, Railways, Steel Mills, you name the institution and it reflects corruption

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  • Nov 4, 2011 - 9:57AM

    They have berated and defamed the country, family and cricket. Ijaz Butt the ex-chairman is equally to blame, though obliquely.

    His blunder is the selection protocol monopolized by him and those in his cahoots. His three-year stint as the PCB chairman brought immeasurable harm to the sport in Pakistan.

    Pakistanis can only thank ALLMIGHTY ALLAH that no physical calamity befell the Sri Lankan; otherwise there would be hell to pay. We pray that the patron saint of cricket and the new chairman will let better sense prevail. Salams to cricket

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  • ali
    Nov 4, 2011 - 10:08AM

    you people have defamed pakistan. You all should be hanged….losers

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  • Maulana Sandwitch
    Nov 4, 2011 - 10:30AM

    judge Jeremy Cooke,a PCO Judge,has played into the hands of Yahood,Hanood and Nasara.Another conspiracy against the Umma.Muslims were excellent swordsmen and conquered half of the world,but these treacherous creatures invented gunpowder,because they could not see the Muslims prosper.They took all the science and technology from our holy books,and are using the same against us.They are conspiring to prevent Pakistan from becoming a super power.Let Imran Khan come,and with our coal reserves,we will again conquer the whole world.Zaid Hamid,Ali Azmat with Imran Khan,will start Ghazwa E Hind,and all these agents of RAW,MOSSAD,CIA,KGB,KARZAI will become HAKKA-BAKKA.Recommend

  • Mirza
    Nov 4, 2011 - 10:33AM

    @Asim+Ali: My family has been adding water in milk for generations, making fake drugs, selling narcotics and doing horrible things. According to you it all must be govt’s fault and we have been innocent for generations.

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  • Pragmatist
    Nov 4, 2011 - 10:45AM

    Don’t know if the headline is entirely accurate. I think they are still teammates except that the venue has changed.

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  • Fahad
    Nov 4, 2011 - 11:01AM

    Awesome decision……….\m/

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  • loola poola
    Nov 4, 2011 - 11:06AM

    look like we r the only nation who is doing all this and alll others are innocent

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  • Arindom
    Nov 4, 2011 - 11:13AM

    @Maulana Sandwitch:
    haha!! good one!!

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  • Ihk
    Nov 4, 2011 - 11:31AM

    @Maulana Sandwitch:
    lol! :D

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  • AD
    Nov 4, 2011 - 11:39AM

    What about PCB officials who behaved like Ostrich.Those holding positions during that period should be banned for five lives and fined in all test playing nation’s currencies.

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  • Spaniard
    Nov 4, 2011 - 11:44AM

    Rightly done by law…and i beleive kamran akmal and wahab riaz would also come under lime light…

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  • mjmannish
    Nov 4, 2011 - 11:52AM

    This is a conspiracy. From the very beginning I have a firm belief that this has all been set up by Indian BCCI with the help of its agencies in collaboration with British agencies. Who supplied so much money to News of the World. Granted these players were fools, but anybody could have been fooled when they were shown so much money just for throwing two or three no balls.

    India wants to trap Pakistan and destroy its cricket and economy. I condemn the punishment awarded to our simple players.

    Allah is watching,

    Allahu Akbar.

    There is no God but Allah, the only Unique word.

    Truly the only religion in sight of Allah is Islam (Submission)……submit submit submit or…else…..

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  • Nov 4, 2011 - 11:54AM

    Salman Butt; should face the LIFETIME BAN. Years back in 2009; while giving an Interview to a GEO reporter. His attitude was an open observation that this man is a Bad.
    I never Like Him; or accepted Him as our Team’s captain.

    See the result; of his captaincy. Khud to doobgaya; Aamir ko bhi le dooba :)

    Good wishes for Muhammad Amir and a Big shame for Butt and his ally (Akmal).Recommend

  • H.I
    Nov 4, 2011 - 12:12PM

    2.5 years,1 year,6 months imprisonment is too harsh.Should have fined them but jailing them is just wrong.

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  • Usman
    Nov 4, 2011 - 12:15PM

    At least amir could have escaped the prison sentence if he had a decent hair cut

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  • Bilal
    Nov 4, 2011 - 12:17PM

    Good step. Now ICC should also think of banning other cricketers involved in similar kind of activities as well

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  • MarkH
    Nov 4, 2011 - 12:43PM

    Just don’t get caught up in a conspiracy to make you drop the soap.

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  • zalim singh
    Nov 4, 2011 - 12:58PM

    Happy jail time…

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  • CK
    Nov 4, 2011 - 1:44PM

    ” Later, following a meeting with British High Commissioner to Pakistan Adam Thomson, Malik said that a team of the Federal Investigation Agency accompanied by solicitors will go to London to help and assist the three sentenced cricketers.”

    They will just relax, drink and visit london bridge.. we all know the purpose of such visits Mr. Peace

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  • Asad
    Nov 4, 2011 - 1:54PM

    Pakistan should declare them ‘diplomats’ and claim diplomatic immunity.

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  • Much Amused
    Nov 4, 2011 - 1:54PM

    The good thing about their jail stints is that they will come out speaking some sort of english. Rare occurence for Pak cricketers?

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  • Sajjad Hussain
    Nov 4, 2011 - 2:04PM

    It must be made mandatory for all players selected to represent the country in international matches to declare their assets yearly.In this way it will be known whether the player earned money legally or illegally..

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  • Fahad J.
    Nov 4, 2011 - 2:33PM

    I think us Pakistanis should stop living in a fool’s paradise by blaming conspiracies. We should probably accept in good faith the decision. There is NO excuse for bribery and treason! NO ONE is bigger than the nation itself. Justice has been served! Butt’s family should be ashamed of him and should publicy declare it. That is what will change our country!

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  • Hypervan
    Nov 4, 2011 - 4:04PM

    @mjmannish:
    Dream on!Dream on! No thinking but dreaming.

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  • Khan
    Nov 4, 2011 - 4:46PM

    @Sao Lao:
    Sao do you think it will be enough to just ban these kind of cheats ? All cheats will wait for big matches where they will take few a hundred thousand to a million pounds to throw away the match .. even if they get banned they will instantly become multi millionaire (a few crore in one go) Who care about cricket’s life time ban or a small fine then if they can get huge amount instantly via shortcuts? Don’t forget they took a huge amount for it. Also one shouldn’t forget how Kamran Akmal had dropped three easy catches and missed a run out against Australia He must have got a very huge for that too.
    Any functional and honest government and its sport ministry would take stern action against such allegations but our politicians and so called leaders are rotting this country. How can we expect these corrupt politicians to do any good for us where “Dr” Rehman Malik is still trying to protect these cheats and our honorable High Commissioner in UK claimed that the players had been “set up” and were innocent of the charges and Ijaz Butt as pointing fingers at ECB and claiming they fix matches. These people are so immoral that despite what they do and what shame they bring to us, they are still on those positions and no one can touch them(we could have expected some action at least against these people during Musharraf’s government).
    At least we know one thing now that Wasim Akram’s gazillion No Balls were not due to his inability to control it. I wonder how many billions he has earned with them.

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  • Khan
    Nov 4, 2011 - 5:39PM

    Kamran Akmal:-
    Pakistan vs Australia January 2010.
    Kamran Akmal dropped three catches and missed an easy run-out of Michael Hussey who was on 33. Hussey went on to score 134 not out and Australia won the match .. I wonder how much was he paid for throwing a full match … must have earn between 50 lac to 2 crore within 5 days?
    Wahaz Riaz:-
    The footage clearly showed him taking Mazhar Majeed’s jacket full of £10,000 inside its pocket.. and then showing it to these guys .. Sure, no one gives a jacket full of money to any one without any reason let alone having such a huge amount. Why was Wahab Riaz left out of investigation.
    Ijaz Butt PCB Chairman:-
    Mr Butt defended these cheats and never bothered to investigate any one involved in these cases and was never able to catch any one despite clear signs of corruption. Later even went to blame ECB without any proof just to apologize later on. For his age and experience one would expect a chairman to be mature enough to know speak without proof but either he with them in it or was too naive for the position.
    Wajid Shamsul Hasan
    A person representing on such high post in a major world country and with such experience one would again expect these people to be sensible, mature, practical and educated enough to know black from white. Honorable high commissioner over stepped his responsibility as high commissioner and got involved in cricket controversy .. just like Mr Butt defended these corrupt players and without any proof said they were framed and are innocent thus bringing more shame to us. If our Interior ministers and Diplomats are of this caliber what else can we expect from our leaders. No one bothered to ask him why he spoke that way without any solid proof, just to defame Pakistan further.
    Rehman Malik:-
    The FIA team will see the cases of the cricketers and examine if they could be helped in any way,” said the interior minister.
    Do I need to say more? Instead of sending a team to see the evidence and punish those player involved in bringing disgrace to this country he is helping them? If you help are murder you are involved equally if you shelter a thief or criminal in the eyes of Law you have committed a crime too. Dr sahib should know that he will not be on this position for rest of his life and one day he will be held responsible for what ever these people are doing to this nation and country.
    Wasim Akram:-
    A legend indeed but just wondering if one no ball in a test match gets you 10 lac how much you get for a one day match doing dozen no balls ? He was very famous for giving away extras in matches and had played many huge matches … Must be billionaire by now. Sure he was not an ameture player to be giving away so many extras and not able to address the problem in 20 years long career .. He wasn’t a horse to control his run up but a professional player.

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  • lady Gaga
    Nov 4, 2011 - 11:40PM

    Excellent british justice – the CJ of pakistan should take note of how real justice takes place. it does not matter who you are or what your status or religion – if you break the law you pay the price. Why cant our justice system do the same.

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