Cricket players accused of corruption back in Pakistan
Islamabad (AsiaNews) - The three national cricket players accused of accepting money to play badly and causing the team to loose arrived in Pakistan in the early afternoon yesterday, disputed by supporters.
A few hundred fans were waiting at Lahore Airport with banners of protest. But for security reasons, the three - Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir - were brought out in secret and accompanied to their luxurious homes, which according to the indictment, are inexplicable despite their high earnings as players.
Yesterday it was reported that Mohammad Asif is seeking asylum in Britain, to avoid having to return home and face the hostility of those same people who until a few days ago, acclaimed them, but mainly for fear of criminal vendettas. The immediate return of players, also suspended from the team has also caused concern, although Rehman Malik, Pakistan's Interior Minister has intervened to explain that they are home for the celebration of the Islamic holiday at the end of Ramadan and at the request of the Pakistan Cricket Board. It seems that Scotland Yard has opposed their departure and a written statement of Rehman Malik that the three would return to Britain if required for the investigation was necessary.
The British press said yesterday that the player was seen talking at length with a legal expert on immigration, news that was not denied. However for asylum to be granted, he has to prove that he is in danger of his life in Pakistan, thus admitting to the very connections with organized crime and the world of illegal betting that the 3 players strongly deny.
In poverty stricken Pakistan cricket is the national sport and the nation is very proud to compete with the world's strongest states. The three players are accused by the British weekly News of the World of having accepted money to help England to victory in the fourth test match between the two countries, clearly won by the British with an innings and 225 points. The accusation is based on testimonies and a video. There is talk of an of illegal betting racket of very high sums. Such accusations could lead to a harsh criminal conviction, in addition to radiation from professional sport. Meanwhile the International Cricket Council has charged the three accused and suspended them as a precautionary measure. Moreover, many fans are sympathetic towards the players and talk about false accusations made by British media, perhaps in agreement with rival India.
In recent days the players were heard by the British police and investigations are underway on calls made from and to their mobile phones and their bank accounts. In any case, suspicion surrounds the high standard of living of the three. Salman Butt, team captain, earns a lot but, the three houses in Lahore and two-storey villa, worth £ 300,000, which he owns in the city can not be justified. Mohammad Asif, who comes from a poor family, has four properties in Lahore, including an Italian-style villa worth 650,000 pounds, another in Karachi and a sixth in Shikhupura. Mohammad Amir is only 18 years, and ownsa property in Lahore.