Pakistan cricketers Butt, Amir staying in jail
London’s Court of Appeal upholds terms handed players in spot-fixing case
Two disgraced Pakistan cricketers will remain jailed after losing their appeals against their sentences in one of the biggest fixing scandals to rock the sport.
London's Court of Appeal on Wednesday upheld the terms handed to Salman Butt and Mohammad Amir for their role in the spot-fixing case that marred a test match between England and Pakistan last year.
Justice Igor Judge said the cricketers betrayed their team, their country and their sport by conspiring to deliberately bowl no-balls as part of a betting scam.
Butt, the former Pakistan captain, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in jail earlier this month after being convicted of conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments.
The 19-year-old Amir pleaded guilty and was handed a six-month sentence in a young offenders' institution.
Mohammad Asif, who was sentenced to 1 year in jail for his part in the case, decided not to appeal. Agent Mazhar Majeed was sentenced to 2 years, 8 months.
The players were convicted of conspiring with Majeed to bowl no-balls at predetermined times during the fourth test at Lord's in August 2010.
"These three cricketers betrayed their team, they betrayed the country which they had the honour to represent and betrayed the sport that had given them their distinction — and of course betrayed all the very many followers of the game throughout the world," the judge said.
The cricketers were caught after Majeed was recorded by an undercover reporter working for the now-defunct News of the World tabloid saying that the three Pakistan players had accepted money to fix betting markets by bowling three no-balls at prearranged times.
Majeed was secretly filmed accepting $242,000 in cash from the journalist.
It was the biggest fixing scandal in cricket since South Africa captain Hansie Cronje was banned for life in 2000 for taking bribes from bookmakers.
The court said what the Pakistani players did was "not simply a matter of breaking the rules of the game."
"It is also criminal conduct of a very serious kind which must be marked with a criminal sanction," the judge said.
The court rejected a plea that Butt's sentence was "manifestly excessive" and that Amir should receive a suspended sentence.
Ali Bajwa, the lawyer for Butt, said the player's sentence was "out of proportion to the seriousness of the offence that was committed." He described Butt as a broken man in a state of "ruin and disgrace."
Henry Blaxland, Amir's lawyer, urged the court to impose a suspended sanction that would enable the teenager's immediate release.
But the judge called it a "notorious" case in which the corruption was "carefully prepared."
"It was not set up on the spur of the moment and it was not the result of some temptation to which either (player) succumbed, in effect, on the spur of the moment," he said.