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Pakistan team focus on Test as Pakistan tight-lipped on verdict.

Sharjah The Pakistan cricket team remained tight-lipped and focused on the third Test match against Sri Lanka as their former captain Salman Butt and fast bowler Mohammad Asif were found guilty in the spot-fixing trial at Southwark Crown Court yesterday.

After 16 hours and 56 minutes of debate, the court found Butt guilty of conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments and conspiracy to cheat at gambling while Asif was found guilty of conspiracy to cheat. Both players will remain on bail until the sentencing -- scheduled for tomorrow and Friday. The maximum prison sentence for acceptance of corrupt payments is seven years in jail while conspiracy to cheat can result in a two-year sentence.

Sting operation

When Gulf News contacted, Colonel Naushad Ali, associate manager of the Pakistan team, he said: "We do not want to comment anything on this matter."

The team was gearing up for the practice session when the news reached Sharjah Cricket stadium at noon and they carried on with their training for the Test which begins tomorrow.

Butt was found guilty by a jury of six men and six women which gave a 10-2 verdict following his act in the Lord's Test in August last year when he conspired with agent Mazhar Majeed and teenage fast bowler Mohammad Aamer to bowl pre-determined no-balls. The charges were levelled by the now defunct News of the World tabloid which carried out an undercover sting operation through their investigations editor Mazher Mahmoud. Mahmoud approached Majeed on the pretext of being a wealthy Indian businessman seeking top cricketers for a tournament. After winning Majeed's confidence, he broached the subject of fixing matches. Majeed revealed that he had been fixing matches for two and a half years. Mahmoud then filmed Majeed accepting EeAu150,000 (Dh878,706) as part of an agreement to rig games.

When the verdict was read out yesterday, both Butt and Asif reportedly showed no emotion.

Suspended

The International Cricket Council (ICC) anti-corruption tribunal which had met in Doha had suspended these players. Butt was banned for ten years, five of which are suspended, Aamer was banned for five years and Asif was given a seven-year ban, with two suspended.

When Gulf News contacted the ICC for its reaction, Sami Ul Hassan, media and communications manager said: "The ICC will make a statement on the matter only after the fourth charge."

The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the accepting corrupt payment charge in relation to Asif and Justice Cook retired to deliberate some more in case they could reach a verdict on the fourth charge.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Nov 2, 2011
Words:447
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