Fixing trio face British trial on May 20


LONDON – Three Pakistan cricketers accused of spot-fixing in a Test match against England last year were on Thursday ordered to stand trial in a British court on May 20. Former captain Salman Butt and fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir appeared at the court of the City of Westminster Magistrates for the first time since they were charged with conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments.
District Judge Howard Riddle said the allegations against the players and their agent, Mazhar Majeed, were “very serious”. “On the face of it, there is clear evidence against all of you in varying degrees,” he said. The judge ordered all four men to report for trial at Southwark Crown Court in London. The players, who all live in Pakistan, were granted unconditional bail, while the Britain-based Majeed was freed on condition he surrender his passport and does not apply for international travel documents.
The players and their agent were charged after being questioned by detectives over accusations in the News of the World newspaper that no-balls were deliberately bowled in the fourth Test match at Lord’s last August. Prosecutor Sally Walsh said all four men were accused of having “conspired together and with others unknown for £150,000 ($240,000) as inducement or reward to bowl three no-balls at the fourth Test”.
She told the court the three players were accused of bowling the three no-balls “for the purpose of enabling another to cheat at gambling”. The charges carry “the risk of imprisonment”, she added. Prior knowledge of when no-balls will occur in an innings could be exploited by gamblers in what is known as spot-betting, which is hugely popular in South Asia.
The players were greeted by a scrum of photographers as they arrived at the court. Dressed in suits and open-necked shirts, the four men spoke only to confirm their names as they appeared in the glass-fronted dock.