Pakistan news May 24, 2011

Preliminary hearing in spot-fixing trial in July

ESPNcricinfo staff

There will be a preliminary hearing in July in the Crown Prosecution Services' case against the three Pakistan players banned for spot-fixing - Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt, and player-agent Mazhar Majeed. During a hearing on May 20, which none of the four attended, the Southwark Crown Court in London decided the trial would be held from October 4. But the judge in the case, James Sanders, has ruled that all four will have to appear for a preliminary hearing in July in person or via video conferencing.

The players and the agent are facing charges of conspiracy to cheat, and conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments, following the Lord's Test last August in which they allegedly conspired to bowl pre-determined no-balls. The four appeared at a hearing on March 17 - at the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court, which set the date and jurisdiction for the May 20 hearing - and were granted unconditional bail at the time; Majeed, who is a citizen of the UK, was told to surrender his passport.

The three players have already been found guilty of spot-fixing by the ICC. Butt was banned for 10 years, Asif for seven and Amir for five. They are now facing criminal charges under Britain's Prevention of Corruption Act 1906, which has a penalty of up to seven years imprisonment for accepting corrupt payments. They also face charges of cheating under the Gambling Act 2005, which has a penalty of up to two years imprisonment.

The foursome was charged after being questioned by Scotland Yard detectives over the alleged scandal in the Test at Lord's last August, following accusations by the News of the World tabloid newspaper.