Tears for 'innocent' jailed Pakistan cricketers
Relatives wept and professed the innocence of their loved ones on
Thursday as a London court jailed three Pakistani cricketers for fixing
parts of a Test match against England.
"My son is innocent and he did the no ball at the asking of the
captain," said Nasim Akhtar, the mother of Mohammad Aamer, tears rolling
down her cheeks at her home in the village of Changa Bangial outside the
Aamer, 19, is the youngest of the trio and was jailed for six months.
Pakistan former Test captain Salman Butt, 27, received 30 months and
fastbowler Mohammad Asif, 28, received one year in jail.
A man displaying the custodial sentences received by three
former Pakistani cricketers and a sports agent for a television
news reporter outside Southwark Crown Court in London. AFP
Corrupt British agent Mazhar Majeed, 36, who had also pleaded guilty
but had denied he had initiated the scam, was given two years and eight
months. Aamer's mother, who lives in a simple two-roomed home, 73
kilometres (46 miles) east of Islamabad, said she feared she might die
before he returns home.
"I spoke to him two days ago and he asked me to pray for his
acquittal... I'm ill after this case, suffering from several diseases
and I may not be here (when he gets out)," she added.
"My prayers are with my son and only Allah will do justice with us,"
she said, watching news of the verdicts being broadcast on television in
her living room, surrounded by female relatives.
Aamer's house is located on a narrow street. The village of Changa
Bangial is surrounded by farmland, where workers were tilling the land
After hearing the verdict on television, Aamer's mother started
crying while neighbours gathered at the residence to express sorrow over
"He should not have been sentenced after his confession. We were
under the impression that he will be released after the imposition of a
fine," said Aamer's brother, 26-year-old Mohammad Ijaz.
In the eastern city of Lahore, where Butt was brought up in relative
luxury compared to Aamer, his sisters spoke to reporters to defend their
brother and claimed he had been made a scapegoat for a wider conspiracy.
"The punishment is unfair, it is shocking. Our brother is innocent,"
said Khadija, veiled and in her 30s, outside the family home.
"We talked to him this morning he was very upset and asked us to pray
for him... His crime is that he was at the wrong place at the wrong
time," she added.
"The trio had been framed and made part of a wider controversy." But
in Pakistan, where millions of avid cricket fans were devastated by the
spot-fixing scandal at the Lord's Test in 2010, the prison terms were
welcomed as a deterrent that could clean up corruption in the sport.
"In Pakistan, where cricket is the national sport, the ordinary
follower of the national team feels betrayed by your activities," said
Judge Jeremy Cooke.
"They betrayed their country, so did not deserve leniency. Good job
Judge Cooke," said Mohammad Ashraf, 40, a salesman at a toy shop in
downtown Karachi. AFP