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KARACHI: Chairman of the Pakistan Super League Najam Sethi on Thursday dispelled the impression that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is unnecessarily prolonging the PSL spot-fixing case for lack of evidence and insisted that the Board have concrete evidence against the players but they are being given a fair chance to defend themelves.

Talking to Dawn, Sethi said: “Nothing could be further from the truth than this. Neither is PCB prolonging the case proceedings nor we lack in evidence. The honest fact is that the PCB is following the procedure set by the tribunal investigating the spot fixing case, and we are giving full opportunity to all the players for there defence.

“Hence we have to give them more time as and when they request for it,” explained Sethi. “We did our best to fulfil requirement of players and their lawyers, but at the same we prepared our evidences too and we have already submitted enough evidences to the tribunal. You are aware that from May 15, the tribunal has begun the day to day hearing with Sharjeel Khan and similar schedule will continue from hereon. From May 19th, daily hearing of another player will start and similarly, next month it will be held with the third suspected player.”

Sethi once again emphasised that the PCB has definite evidences otherwise it would not have taken such elaborate steps to investigate the case thoroughly. “Of course we have evidences, that is why we taken this step. It is a very serious matter and there are very serious evidences, but we have to follow the due procedure.”

When pressed as to why could the PCB not share the evidences with the media to make things crystal clear, Sethi said: We don’t want to share these evidences with media because the suspected players may object to it that some sort of media trial is being carried out. On the basis of the evidences that we have, we are keen to see the guilty ones getting punished and that is why we want to give them a fair chance to defend themselves so that in the future, they donot go to court on the pretext that the PCB did not gave them a fair chance of defence.”

When reminded about the rumours taking round about the PCB Anti-corruption Unit officials pressurising the suspected players to confess their crime, and that Mohammad Irfan was made a scapegoat, Sethi rubbished it all.

“Look, any intelligent person will be aware about what the difference was between the case of Mohammad Amir and those of Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt,” he argued. “The one who admitted his fault received a five-year ban while the other two got 7 and 10 years ban respectively. But all three were convicted and they also served in prison.

“This practice is common in all over the world,” said Sethi. “At first, charges are framed on the basis of evidence at hand and the accused is informed about it,” said Sethi. “If he admits his mistake and accepts the evidences, he get lesser punishment according to the given law. But if he refuses and does not admit mistake then he has to face severe punishment.”

“Similarly, there are rules of the ICC and PCB as well as other boards,” said Sethi. “Irfan admitted his mistake that he did not report the approach from the bookies, so under the given law he gets less punishment. However, he would have faced severe punishment had he refused the charges.

“Once he (Irfan) serves the punishment, he will be back to normality. But Irfan’s case surely differs from the other players who actually committed spot fixing. Another player was the facilitator and agreed to spot fixing too. We have the evidences of all this and we showed it to the tribunal.

“Lawyers of the players obviously expected to defend their clients, We informed the players in the first meeting that these are the evidences and if they admit they will get lesser punishment, but if they donot, we will prosecute them and they will be facing hard punishments if they are found guilty of spot-fixing.”

Asked if the PCB is ready to accept whatever decision the investigating tribunal will make, Sethi said: “Of course, PCB will accept whatever decision is made by the tribunal. This is an independent tribunal that has been made by PCB as per the law, so can we not accept is decisions?”

When asked about the status of scam’s central character, ex-opener Nasir Jamshed who is in the UK at the moment, Sethi said: “Nasir Jamshed is not cooperating with us. We called him quite a few times but he did not respond. We have rejected his clams that the UK inquiry needs to end first and only then he can talk to the PCB. Even the UK authorities have allowed us to conduct our inquiry and they have no objection on both inquiries simultaneously getting conducted.These are just delaying tactics and are usually adopted by guilty people.”

Speaking about the steps the PCB will be taking to prevent PSL 3 from running into problems like fixing, Sethi said: “We will try to groom and educate our players and conduct more awareness programs, but it is a fact that bookies will target PSL for sure as it as it has become a hit and is gaining tremendous popularity. We will enhance our intelligence too and FIA is already investigating the bookmakers and will try to arrest them soon.”

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2017

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