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Mohammad Asif denies protecting Salman Butt in spot-fixing case

October 15, 2011 - London

Tainted Pakistan cricketer Mohammad Asif denied protecting former captain Salman Butt or being pressurised by him not to tell the truth, London's Southwark Crown Court heard during the eighth day of the spot-fixing case trial.

Butt and Asif- both banned from all cricketing activity by the International Cricket Council (ICC)- are facing "charges of conspiracy to cheat, and conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments."

These charges relate to allegations that alleged bookmaker Mazhar Majeed accepted money from a third party to arrange for Butt, Asif and Mohammad Amir to bowl 'no balls' on 26 and 27 August 2010, during Pakistan's Fourth Test at Lord's Cricket Ground in London.

On the eighth day of the case trial, the jury heard a transcript of an initial police interview with Asif that was conducted in September last year, soon after the publication of an undercover investigation into alleged corruption by the Pakistan cricketers and agent Majeed, released in the now defunct tabloid News of the World.

The transcript was read out in the courtroom in a role-play format between at-the-time policeman Detective Constable John Massey and Sarah Whitehouse for the prosecution, The Express Tribune reported.

However, when the transcript of Asif's conversation was read out, the banned fast-bowler was not present, as he arrived two hours late for the hearing, it added.

On being questioned on whether he was protecting Butt, Asif was heard as saying: "No... I'm going to protect myself. How can I protect Salman Butt? Even in the game and in my life I am going to protect myself."

On police's further questioning whether he was under any sort of pressure by Butt not to tell the truth, Asif was firm in his denial.

"No pressure, how can he put pressure on me? How can he pressurise me? Nobody can pressurise me as I have played in the [Pakistan] team for a long time," Asif was quoted as saying.

Asif was also heard to have revealed that his initial agent was Mazhar's older brother Azhar before he switched 'seven or eight months ago', the report said.

However, he added that despite conversations of potential income, he had not received any money from either of the two Majeed brothers, the report added.


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