Pakistan news September 27, 2013

'This is character assassination' - Rauf

Pakistan umpire Asad Rauf has, through his lawyer, denied the allegations made against him by Mumbai Police in its chargesheet on the IPL betting scandal. Rauf's counsel said though his client respected the Indian judicial system, he didn't trust the Mumbai Police and would not travel to India to contest any trial.

"All the allegations reported in media are baseless," Rauf's lawyer, Syed Ali Zafar, said in Lahore. "We don't have any chargesheet and only have the press reports that have no legal value or importance at the moment.

"So we think it is just a conspiracy by Mumbai Police to defame his [Rauf] and the country's name. We think Mumbai Police is indulging in character assassination. He is a well-known, professional, competent Pakistani umpire. Whatever is being reported in press is all false and I strongly deny it on behalf of Asad Rauf."

Zafar said Rauf's camp would respond to the allegations only if approached by the ICC or Pakistani authorities about the same. "Asad Rauf has full confidence in Indian courts but he has no faith in Mumbai Police and at the moment we are not confident going to India. For Asad Rauf the situation is not right in India - they could detain him, they can frame other charges. But if Mumbai Police goes to the ICC's anti-corruption unit or approaches [the concerned] authorities in Pakistan, we will then provide witnesses and give our point of view."

Rauf, who was listed as a "wanted accused" in the chargesheet, was allegedly given gifts by bookies, passed on match-related information to them, and placed bets on matches himself while officiating in the tournament. The police made their case on the evidence of transcripts of recorded phone conversations that Rauf allegedly had with other people accused in the chargesheet, and a large portion of it concerns the period before and after Delhi Police arrested three Rajasthan Royals players following their match against Mumbai Indians on May 15, which Rauf umpired.

"Mumbai police has given general statement that Asad Rauf has done betting in collaboration with bookies," Zafar, who was seated beside Rauf said. "First of all, Asad Rauf has not done any gambling in any sport ever. Mumbai police has not provided any specific incident in its chargesheet. There's some conversation of Asad Rauf and there was some doubt. We don't have tapes and we don't know in which context the conversation was held, so I can't comment on it.

The chargesheet also contains details of alleged gifts Rauf may have received from bookies and evidence indicating he met with others accused in the case. Two bags according to the chargesheet reportedly were to be delivered to Asad Rauf were taken into custody from Air India cargo department at the Mumbai airport. The bags reportedly included gifted apparels, shoes and other accessories, shopping bills at Diesel showroom, Asad Rauf's pass and bills in the name of Asad Rauf Malik.

Rauf said the bags mostly contained religious items, and there was nothing wrong with "exchanging gifts". "I challenge Mumbai Police, that they should open the bag in the court and produce lavish watches and gold and show it to the whole world," he said. "There are some religious things in them, which are most important to me. I can confirm with full confidence that there wasn't any expensive jewelry in my bags, they contained chaadars (cotton sheets) brought from different shrines from Baghdad and various other holy cities. We have written to the authorities to reclaim my stuff.

"As far as exchanging gifts is concerned, it's not a crime. Mumbai Police should have realised that the subcontinent has its culture and we give gifts. It's a tradition in Pakistan and even in India. There are lots of instances when people do come from India [to Pakistan], go to shops and the shopkeepers don't take the money from the guests."

Rauf also denied allegations that he left bags behind while "escaping" from India. "I had requested Vindoo Dara Singh [a Indian actor who was arrested in connection with the betting scandal] to send those bags to the Delhi airport, but due to some miscommunication I missed them."

Rauf said that the ICC had investigated the allegations and given him a clean-chit. "The ICC has investigated the whole thing, it also has its anti-corruption unit, it didn't find me involved in any corruption," he said. "I have provided all my bank accounts, my property details and my SIM card details to them."

Rauf was withdrawn, by the ICC, from officiating in the Champions Trophy in June following the media reports of him being investigated by the police. He was later dropped from the ICC's Elite Panel of umpires, though the governing body confirmed that had nothing to do with the allegations but was a decision taken after the umpire's annual review.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here