London: The judge, who convicted the three Pakistan cricketers and their agent for spot-fixing, on Wednesday deferred the pronouncement of sentences for on Thursday after the lawyers pleaded for leniency in the quantum of punishment. (Agencies)
Judge Jeremy Cooke said after a day-long hearing filled with drama that he would announce sentences to former Test captain Salman Butt, fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir and their agent Majhar Majeed on Thursday.
The announcement came after the lawyers of the four convicted pleaded not to hand harsh punishments but only the minimum sentences to their clients.
Majeed's lawyer pointed fingers on Butt saying that the former Test captain was the main culprit in the betting scam.
"In the summer of 2009, it was Butt who initiated a discussion with Majeed for a possible fixing in the Twenty20 World Cup in England (which Pakistan won). He (Butt) told Majeed that he can ask his players to do spot-fixing," Majeed's lawyer told the court.
Majeed's lawyer also said that Butt gave his client a telephone number of allegedly an Indian by the name of Sanjay.
"Majeed met Sanjay at a hotel in Parkland in Central London and discussed about any possible gambling during the Twenty20 World Cup in England but finally turned out to be a non-starter," he said.
He also said that Sanjay was in regular touch with Majeed during Pakistan's tour of England last year during which the spot-fixing scandal came to rock the cricketing world.
Majeed, who had earlier pleaded guilty to his involvement in the betting scam, admitted the handing over of 77,000 pounds sterling to the three players.
He expressed, through his lawyer "extreme remorse" and "that he was devastated" for his actions "which had brought pain to his family for no fault of theirs".
Majeed, 36, admitted conspiracy to cheat and to obtain and accept corrupt payments during a pre-trial hearing in September but that fact could not be reported till on Wednesday due to court restrictions.
Butt, through his lawyer, sought leniency on the ground that his family life will be irreversibly damaged if sentenced.
"His life would be ruined and damaged irreversibly if he is sentenced in the case. He does not want his family to suffer and will not even be able to see his new-born son if he is sentenced. Besides his marriage will also be in trouble," Butt's lawyer said at the Southwark Crown Court.
Asif's lawyer took the plea that his client should be handed a lesser punishment as there was no proven evidence that he got any money in the whole scandal.
"My client has a lot of talent and if he is given a long punishment his career will be finished," the lawyer said.
Teenage fast bowler Amir while pleading guilty said that he got trapped.
"My client feels he is being trapped but he doesn't blame anyone. He accepts any decision of court," Amir's lawyer said.
With the sentencing hearing having begun on the 21st day of the trial on Wednesday, Majeed's lawyer also revealed his client handed 77,000 pound sterlings to the three players.
The figures he was asked to distribute were: 2,500 pound sterling to Amir, 10,000 to Butt and 65,000 to Asif.
Asif was paid the larger amount to guarantee that he remained loyal to the fixing racket within the team and was not persuaded to go elsewhere, Majeed's lawyer said.
Butt and strike bowler Mohammad Asif were found guilty by a jury on Tuesday. Like Majeed, teenage swing bowler Mohammad Amir admitted the charges in September, but his guilty plea could not be reported during the trial of Butt and Asif.
In the court on Wednesday, prosecutor Aftab Jafferjee applied for a compensation order to repay the 150,000 pound sterling (USD240,000, 175,000 euros) that an undercover reporter from the now-defunct 'News of the World' tabloid Mazhar Mehmood gave to Majeed.
The money, paid in cash, was handed over to Majeed as part of an arrangement to rig cricket matches, including the no-balls delivered during the Test between Pakistan and England at Lord's in August 2010.
Earlier in the day, all the three Pakistan players found guilty of spot-fixing appeared together for the first time in the court with Amir turning up for a special hearing.
Amir, who had pleaded guilty at a pre-trial to bowling two pre-determined no-balls at the Lord's Test last year, appeared at the court with his barrister Henry Blaxland QC as the sentencing process began.
Judge Cooke said that text messages sent from murky contacts in Pakistan suggested the talented youngster was also implicated in fixing during the preceding Test at The Oval.
"There are certainly texts and the like which suggest that Amir's first and only involvement was not limited to Lord's, it was not an isolated and one-off event," Cooke said.
Blaxland pointed out that he had handed the judge a 19-page file of mitigation.
Subsequently, a recess was called at 11.30 local time to allow the judge enough time to read the file.
London: The judge, who convicted the three Pakistan cricketers and their agent for spot-fixing, on Wednesday deferred the pronouncement of sentences for on Thursday after the lawyers pleaded for leniency in the quantum of punishment.