Sunday, January 9, 2011

Butt undergoes 'tough' cross-examination

Salman Butt, the former Pakistan captain, spent the entire third day of the spot-fixing hearings in Doha being examined first by his own lawyer before facing what has been described as "a tough" cross-examination by the ICC's legal team.
Butt is facing charges of spot-fixing during the Lord's Test between Pakistan and England last summer along with bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, the trio alleged to have bowled deliberate, pre-planned no-balls.
Butt was Test captain at the time and he has since maintained his innocence publicly and more aggressively than the other two players. In several interviews on TV and elsewhere, he has explained the presence of the money found in his hotel room after the scandal broke in the News of the World, as well as his relationship with Mazhar Majeed, the player-agent caught on camera claiming he could orchestrate spot-fixing within the side.
The fact that he spent the whole day being examined indicates the significance of his role in the proceedings and the part it may play in the final outcome. One observer said the cross-questioning "had been a tough one, though that is something they would have expected." It also increases the chances, with Asif and Amir still to present their defence and be cross-examined, of the hearing lasting its full scheduled duration till January 11.
On Friday the ICC had heard from their witnesses, including Shahid Afridi, Waqar Younis and Mazhar Mahmood, the NOTW investigative reporter responsible for the initial story. The hearings also heard from Khawaja Najam, who was the team's security manager during the World Twenty20 and the England tour, but has since stepped down from the post. In a recently leaked report of statements Najam made to ICC investigators, details were revealed of the money and currency found in the players' rooms immediately after the Lord's Test.
Much of the questioning of the Pakistani witnesses on the second day of the hearing had been to simply confirm or deny events and statements they had already made, with little "beating about the bush" about surrounding speculation. At least one of the witnesses believes that leaves little scope for doubt to be created and suggests that the situation doesn't augur particularly well for the trio.
It isn't clear yet whether Butt's cross-examination will continue on the fourth day or who is to follow him on the stand. The order of appearance has been pre-decided by the tribunal.
The day didn't appear to have visibly affected Butt. He walked out at the end with his lawyer Yasin Patel looking considerably more relaxed than on previous days, engaged in what appeared to be a discussion with Patel about Imran Khan and Dennis Lillee.

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