Spot-fixing trial: Akmal and Riaz ‘deeply suspicious’

The spot-fixing trial heard today that Pakistan cricketers Kamran Akmal and Wahab Riaz have “deeply, deeply suspicious” links to the alleged corruption racket.

The wicketkeeper and bowler were explicitly named by the prosecution in the closing speeches of the trial.

Aftab Jafferjee, QC, said that jurors may wonder why they were not charged – despite being linked throughout proceedings to the agent at the centre of the conspiracy, Mazhar Majeed.

The prosecutor said that Akmal, in particular, “has had something of a charmed life”. 

“The role of Kamran Akmal and Wahab Riaz raises deep, deep suspicions,” Mr Jafferjee said. But while their involvement appears obvious, the prosecution could not have presented a case “beyond reasonable doubt”, as is required to prove them guilty in court, he added.

Majeed named both the players as being amongst his six reliable “fixers”, the court has heard. When the agent received his first £10,000 from the News of the World sting, he put it into the inside pocket of a cream jacket which he then passed to Riaz to wear at a restaurant, jurors were told.

Majeed also boasted several times to the undercover journalist that he could arrange spot-fixing with Akmal, whose close links to the agent has seen him named on almost every day of the trial.

In his final speech today, Mr Jafferjee said that everything involving Majeed “stinks” of corruption.

He called upon the jury to forget the technicalities of the game of cricket, and to treat it as a case of “crude deceit and greed”.

“This is about the corrupt exploitation of a system by those lucky enough, through talent, to operate in that system,” Mr Jafferjee said.

“And all for what? Money, and more money.”

Mr Jafferjee added that the cricketers have effectively turned on each other “as they try to wriggle out of what each of them has done”.

But it was accepted on all sides that Mohammad Amir was part of the conspiracy, he said, describing the teenage bowler as being like a “sacrificial goat” – or the “nightwatchman” – caught up in the plot orchestrated by senior figures.

Meanwhile Butt was criticised for making an “extraordinary” claim when he gave evidence that American wrestling proves fans still watch sport even when it has been fixed.

The former captain made the comment when asked whether he agreed that match rigging could “destroy” the game.

The player replied “it depends” – and added that in WWF Wrestling all the fights are pre-arranged but thousands of fans still follow it.

Mr Jafferjee said the claim “spoke to the character of the man” accused of fixing in the Lord’s Test against England last year – and proved that his “righteousness” about the game was false.

“If each of these defendants is innocent we have entered a world of the most staggering series of co-incidences. But there comes a time when common sense rebels against co-incidence,” he said.

The prosecutor added that the spot-fixing allegations were “sad for talented players, and sad for the sport”.

But he concluded: “No player is above the sport and no person is above the law – that is what makes each of them guilty.”

Butt and Mohammad Asif deny conspiracy to cheat and accept corrupt payments.
 
The case continues.

Follow RDJ Edwards in court on Twitter – @Cricketer_RDJ

View all previous trial articles

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