Islamabad: The spot-fixing trial will be held from October 4, the Southwark Crown Court in London ruled on Friday. The decision was made during a hearing into corruption charges against Pakistani players Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, and the player-agent Mazhar Majeed, who were all named in the spot-fixing investigation.
Strangely, none of the four attended the hearing, though Amir and Asif were in London. Butt had already been excused from being present for the hearing.
The players and the agent are facing charges of conspiracy to cheat, and conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments, following the Lord's Test last August in which they allegedly conspired to bowl pre-determined no-balls. The four appeared at a hearing - at the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court - on March 17, which set the date and jurisdiction for this hearing and were granted unconditional bail at the time; Majeed was told to surrender his passport.
Accepting corrupt payments is an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 and carries a maximum sentence of seven years' imprisonment and an unlimited fine. Cheating is an offence under Section 42 of the Gambling Act 2005, carrying a maximum sentence of two years' imprisonment and an unlimited fine.
The foursome was charged after being questioned by Scotland Yard detectives over the alleged scandal in the Test at Lord's last August, following accusations by the News of the World tabloid newspaper. The players have already been banned by the ICC, which held a separate inquiry, for periods ranging from five to ten years. All three have, however, already filed appeals against their bans at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.