Tuesday 20 February 2018

‘Broken’ jailed cricketers Pakistan lose their court appeal

PAKISTAN cricketers Salman Butt and Mohammad Amir were described as broken men today after losing their appeal over their sentences for spot-fixing.

The players, imprisoned alongside their agent Mazhar Majeed for orchestrating no-balls in a Test match against England last summer, become the first sportsmen to be jailed for on-field corruption in the UK for almost 50 years.

Former captain Butt, 27, was handed a two-and-a-half year jail term after being found guilty of conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments while fast bowler Amir, described by the judge as "impressionable" was sentenced to six months in prison.

In his judgment, Lord Chief Justice described Butt as a "malign influence" who had taken the lead in the corruption and rejected his lawyers' plea for a reduced sentence.

Upholding the sentences, he said: "The game will be impoverished in the long term if this criminality is not sanctioned.

"If it cannot be guaranteed that players are performing to the best of their ability then the integrity of the game is destroyed."

Representing Butt, Ali Bajwa QC, described the sentence as an "exceptional punishment".

In his appeal to the court, his defence had argued that Butt's sentence, coupled with the ICC's decision to impose a 5-year ban from the game, had "threatened his recovery and chances of ever getting his life back," and had appealed for it to be reduced.

"He is a broken man. The punishment has had a devastating effect on him, ending his career when it was at it's zen," Mr Bajwa told the Court of Appeal.

Lawyers representing Amir, 19, who has already served three weeks of his six-month sentence at Feltham Young Offenders Institute, had his request for a suspended sentence rejected.

The conspiracy was exposed following a sting by undercover reporters working for the now-defunct News of the World, who filmed Majeed accepting £150,000.

The players were ordered to pay compensation towards prosecution costs. Butt, 27, was ordered to pay £30,937, Amir £9,389 and Asif £8,120.

The third player embroiled in the scandal, Mohammed Asif, is expected to launch a separate appeal to reduce his one-year sentence.

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