The jury in the spot-fixing trial of former Pakistan Test captain Salman Butt and fast bowler Mohammad Asif have found the pair guilty of fixing part of a Test match against England last year.
The jury returned the verdict at London’s Southwark Crown Court, after nearly four days of deliberation.
Butt and Asif, who were convicted of conspiracy to cheat, had pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments, and conspiracy to cheat at gambling.
The 12 jurors were unanimous in their decision that both players were guilty of conspiracy to cheat, but could only reach a 10-2 majority verdict on the charge that Butt took money to do so. The jury needed another three hours of deliberation to also find Asif guilty of accepting money to fix parts of the match.
“Its been an extremely dramatic day here after a trial that stretched into its 5th week,” said Al Jazeera Lee Wellings, reporting from London.
“The charges we have talked about carry potential jail sentences of five years and two years. Would an English judge send them to prison here for seven years? that is a matter for him, but he has plenty of options to consider, including fines and suspended sentences.”
Fast bowler Mohammad Amir had already pleaded guilty to both charges.
The prosecution alleged that Butt, 27, and Asif, 28, conspired with British agent Mazher Majeed to ensure the deliberate bowling of no-balls in the fourth Test against England in August last year.
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Hearing more than four weeks of evidence, the jury of six men and six women heard that there were huge sums to be made by fixing parts of matches, known as spot-fixing, for gambling syndicates.
Butt and Asif were charged after allegations about their involvement in spot-fixing appeared in Britain’s now-defunct Murdoch-owned News of the World tabloid, shortly after the Lord’s Test.
Majeed was recorded by an undercover reporter saying that the three Pakistan players had accepted money to fix betting markets and secretly filmed accepting $242,000 in cash from the journalist.
He claimed he had been carrying out match-fixing for
2-1/2 years, had seven players from Pakistan’s national side
working for him, and had made “masses and masses of money”.
Majeed promised the reporter that Asif and Amir would deliver three no-balls at specific points during the Lord’s
test. The no-balls were bowled as promised, with the probability of someone predicting this by chance estimated
by a cricket statistician as 1.5 million to one.
Butt, who was appointed Pakistan’s captain during last year’s tour of England, told the court the agent asked him to
rig parts of crunch games at the 2010 Twenty20 World Cup and last summer’s Test series, but he had ignored the requests.
Butt, who made his Test debut for Pakistan in 2003 and has played 33 Test matches and 78 one-day internationals, admitted he did not fulfil his duty to inform the cricketing authorities about the corrupt approach.
Butt, Asif and bowler Mohammad Amir have already received lengthy suspensions from an International Cricket Council anti-corruption tribunal in Doha for fixing parts of the Lord’s Test.
Butt was banned for 10 years, five of which are suspended, Amir was banned for five years and Asif was given a seven-year ban, with two suspended.