• Spot-fixing controversy

Butt jailed for 30 months over spot-fixing controversy

ESPN staff
November 3, 2011

Salman Butt, the former Pakistan captain, has been sentenced to two years and six months in jail for his role in the spot-fixing case; Mohammad Asif has got a one-year jail sentence and Mohammad Amir six months. Mazhar Majeed, the players' agent, has been sentenced to two years and eight months.

The sentences were handed down in Southwark Crown Court on Thursday morning, bringing the curtains down on one of sport's most sordid and shameful scandals. The sentences are open to appeal and can be reduced to half the term for good behaviour.

The incarceration will begin immediately, with the players - who had all come to court with bags - due to be led into prison straight from the courtroom. It seems, in Amir's case, that he will be sent to a young offenders' detention centre instead of jail.

The sentences are open to appeal and Butt's solicitor Paul Harris said they would be doing so in the next 24 hours.

The PCB called it a "sad day" for Pakistan cricket. "Instead of having pride in playing for their country, these players chose to disappoint their supporters, damage the image of their country and bring the noble game of cricket into disrepute. There is little sympathy in Pakistan for the sorry pass they have come to."

In Lahore, the families of the convicted players were stunned by the sentences. Amir's father said the Pakistan government should have helped his son. His brother Saleem said: "He is a kid, he can't understand things. These six months are a lot for a boy who is immature."

Butt's father Zulfiqar was more aggressive, saying his son was innocent. "Our own friends conspired against us," he said. "You can check our bank balance, we haven't even been able to build our own house."

The judge began proceedings with his summation of the case of each of the four found guilty, reading out their sentences one at a time, and his initial words suggested jail terms for all four guilty.

"Now, when people look back at a surprising event in a game or a surprising result or ever in the future there are surprising results, followers of the game who have paid to watch cricket or who have watched cricket on TV will wonder whether there has been a fix or what they have watched was natural."

"It's clear you were the orchestrator of these matters," Justice Cooke told Butt. "You had to be to make sure these two bowlers were bowling at the time of the fix."

To Asif he said: "Whilst no money was found in your possession, it's clear that you conspired to bowl a no-ball. There's no evidence on your part of prior fixing but it's hard to see that this could have been an isolated incident."

There were frantic scenes in and around courtroom number four on Thursday morning at Southwark Crown Court, as media and members of the public crammed to witness the sentencing. The guilty entered the court last after a crazy scrummage for seats by media workers and public. Even regular court reporters commented that they had not seen such desperation in court to be present for sentencing of a trial.

Butt and Asif were found guilty of conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments by a jury on Tuesday, while Majeed and Amir pleaded guilty at a pre-trial in September. It all followed the now infamous three pre-determined no-balls that were delivered in the Lord's Test match last year, two by Amir and one by Asif, orchestrated by Butt and arranged by Majeed.

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