Wednesday, 17 April 2013

What is next for Asif and Butt?

Muhammad Asif Khan

After the International Cricket Council (ICC), independent anti-corruption tribunal and the London court, the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) also upheld the penalties imposed by the ICC on Pakistani crickets Muhammad Asif and Salman Butt.

After ICC’s suspensions, during the January 2011 hearing in Doha, an independent anti-corruption tribunal handed Salman Butt and Muhammad Asif 10 and 7 years bans respectively, out of which five years were suspended on condition that, throughout that period, both would not commit any further breach of the code and would participate in anti-corruption education programmes.

Later in November 2011, Salman Butt along with Muhammad Amir – banned for five years - failed to reduce their sentences after the lord chief justice rejected their appeals, telling their legal teams that the pair had been guilty of "criminal conduct of a very serious kind".

The interesting aspect, during the hearing, was the statement of Salman Butt’s lawyer, Ali Bajwa who argued that Salman Butt's sentence was "out of proportion to the seriousness of the offence that was committed". For the first time Bajwa admitted that Butt had been involved in arranging the no-balls – something that emerged neither in the trial nor in his mitigation-plea hearing – and that this was a criminal offence, but he claimed that spot fixing of individual events was at the "lower end of the scale" of such offences, with result fixing the gravest. Bajwa described Butt as a broken man in a state of "ruin and disgrace".

Then comes the latest CAS appeal hearing where Asif challenged the suspension by the ICC tribunal but on the other hand Salman Butt only requested that the sanction be reduced to less than five years. Why Salman only sough reduction? Doesn’t it mean he accepted the charge against him? Of course, because prior to him, his lawyer admitted that as well (as mentioned above)

Now Salman Butt is eyeing a return after serving the 5-year period out of which he had already served little over 30 months, but it is not that simple.

Both Salman Butt and Muhammad Asif have to complete the five-year period first and then as per the article 6.7 of the ICC Anti-corruption code, both have to go through a procedure to earn eligibility to hit a cricket ground again.

The article 6.7 of the ICC Anti-corruption code states that once the period of ineligibility – five years - has expired they (Asif & Butt) will automatically become re-eligible to play provided that they had

·        Completed an official anti-corruption education session to the reasonable satisfaction of the ACSU.

·        Satisfied, in full, any fine and/or award of costs made against them by any Anti-Corruption Tribunal or CAS panel

·        Agreed to subject them to such additional reasonable and proportionate monitoring procedures and requirements as the ACSU's General Manager may reasonably consider necessary given the nature and scope of the offence committed.

Now the scenario is pretty clear, unless Salman Butt and Muhammad Asif fulfill the above mentioned pre-requisites their return does not seem possible.

The writer is a Pakistani sports journalist, heads the sports department at News One TV & tweets @mak_asif

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