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September 3, 2010

Tainted trio vow to fight on

Sports

AFP
September 3, 2010

LONDON: The spot-fixing scandal revolving around three Pakistani cricketers took a major twist when the tainted trio declared they were innocent and will fight to clear their names in the court of law.
Speaking on the behalf of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, Pakistan’s High Commissioner Wajid Shamsul Hasan told reporters here on Thursday that the players have ‘voluntarily’ withdrawn from rest of their team’s England tour because they are ‘extremely disturbed due to mental torture’.
“They are extremely disturbed with what has happened in the past one week,” said Hasan. “They say that they are entirely innocent. They further maintain that on account of the mental torture, which has deeply disturbed them, they are not in the right frame of mind and have requested the PCB not to consider them for the remaining matches till their names are cleared,” he added.
Hasan was speaking after concluding a 90-minute meeting with the players, who arrived in a four-wheeler with blacked out windows from their Kensington Garden Hotel, ten minutes away from the Pakistan High Commission building in the posh Knightsbridge locality.
They were given a police escort of about 10 officials, who smuggled the players inside the building as media people rushed towards them, firing questions at the trio. There were no answers.
There was a big scrum and apparently to avoid a repeat of it, the Pakistan High Commission officials, after the meeting, secretly sent them back to their hotel from an adjacent building as media people kept waiting for them.
Earlier, Hasan came out to read what he said would be a brief statement. But it was followed by an impromptu question-answer sessions near the steps of the PHC building.
Hasan, when asked whether he believed the players were innocent said: “I believe in their innocence. They’ve not been proven guilty. The law says that that you are innocent unless proven guilty.”
He stressed that the

players will stay in England to clear their names.
“They are here. They are not running away. They are innocent and they have to prove their innocence. They want to clear their names. They can’t run away.”
Wajid rejected speculations that the players will be grilled again by Scotland Yard officials on Thursday and also denied that the authorities have seized their passports. “Their passports are with the team management,” he said.
Hasan also dismissed reports that the players were axed from the series following pressure from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), which reportedly threatened to scrap the series if Pakistan insisted on continuing with the tainted trio. “No such question was raised that if these players play they will not have the series,” he said.
Hasan revealed that the players are preparing for a legal battle to prove their innocence.
“Obviously they are under interrogation. These are serious allegations. They will go in the court. We will Inshaallah stand vindicated.”
Also present during the meeting between the players and Hasan were Tafazzul Rizvi, PCB’s legal advisor and KK Agha, the Additional Attorney-General.
Ijaz Butt, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman, wasn’t a part of the meeting. “Ijaz Butt is on some other assignment,” said Hasan.

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