A London court has sentenced former Pakistan cricket captain Salman Butt to 30 months in prison for conspiring with a bookie and two bowlers in his team to bowl three no-balls in a Test match against England last year, for money. The bookie Mazhar Majeed has been sentenced to 32 months in jail. The judge held that the two men were the architects of the spot-fixing incident. (Timeline of the spot-fixing saga)
The two other Pakistani cricketers, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, have been sentenced to one year and six months in jail respectively. Amir's lawyer has said he will appeal against the sentence.
The cricketers have also been asked to pay towards cost of prosecution - Salman Butt has been asked to pay 30, 937 pounds and Mohmmad Asif 8,120 pounds. Mohammad Amir has been ordered to pay 9,389 pounds.
The court has said that the cricketers can be allowed to leave on licence after they have served half their prison terms if they show good conduct.Â The players and Majeed were arrested as soon as sentence was pronounced and have been led to prison.
The judge began today by saying that the charges against the accused were so serious that only a prison term would suffice. He said the integrity of cricket had been damaged and held Majeed's corruption far wider than no-balls.
He held Salman Butt "more culpable than either of your two bowlers," and told him, "I consider that you were responsible for involving Amir in the corruption - an 18-year-old from a poverty stricken village background, very different to your own privileged one, who, whilst a very talented bowler, would be inclined to do what his senior players and particularly his captain told him, especially when told there was money in it for him and this was part of the common culture. For an impressionable youngster, not long in the team to stand out against the blandishments of his captain would have been hard."
Butt and Asif were convicted earlier this week by the London court, which found Butt guilty of conspiracy to accept corrupt payments and conspiracy to cheat and fast bowler Mohammad Asif guilty of conspiracy to cheat. Teen cricketer Mohmmad Amir, who had made a remorseful speech in court yesterday, had pleaded guilty before trial began. The judge told Amir that he was taking into account the fact that he came from "a village background where life has been hard and you struggled with serious back problems to reach the peak you did when bowling for Pakistan. Compared with others, you were unsophisticated, uneducated and impressionable. You were only 18 at the time and readily leant on by others. I am clear that you bear less responsibility than your captain who influenced you in the manner to which I have earlier referred."
The three cricketers were accused of conspiring with sports agent Mazhar Majeed to ensure the delivery of three no-balls during the match against England. The allegations surfaced first after a sting operation by an undercover reporter working for the News of the World tabloid, now shut down, saying that the three Pakistan players had accepted money to fix betting markets. Majeed was secretly filmed accepting 150,000 pounds ($242,000) in cash from the journalist.
On Tuesday, 12 jurors unanimously found Butt and Asif guilty of conspiracy to cheat. But they took 17 hours to return a 10-2 majority verdict - after the judge said he would allow one - on the charge that that Butt took money to have no-balls bowled during a certain part of the fourth cricket Test against England at Lord's in August 2010. The jury was hung on that charge against Asif, who bowled the three no balls.
Butt, 27, became a father on Tuesday for the second time just 30 minutes before being found guilty; his sister's wedding is two weeks from now and his being sent to prison could affect those plans.