LAHORE, Pakistan (AFP) –
Pakistan’s disgraced former captain Salman Butt returned home Friday after being released from a British prison, maintaining his innocence over a spot-fixing scandal but apologising for the first time for not reporting corrupt approaches.
The 27-year-old was imprisoned for 30 months in November on charges of accepting corrupt payments during the Lord’s Test against England in August 2010.
Butt, teammates Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer, and agent Mazhar Majeed were accused of arranging deliberate no-balls in return for money. Aamer was released in February after serving half his six-month sentence while Asif, jailed for 12 months, was freed in May.
Around 200 fans including Butt’s father Zulfiqar gathered at Lahore’s international airport as the player, wearing a green shirt and jeans, made his way through the airport after being cleared by Pakistan’s immigration authorities.
Fans carried banners and chanted slogans in support of their hero.
An angry Butt shouted for space before leaving but he returned 10 minutes later to talk to the media, apologising and vowing to clear his name from the spot-fixing charges that derailed his career.
“To the people of Pakistan, all the cricketers, those who support us and make us stars, I apologise,” he said.
However, Butt denied he had any links to spot-fixing.
“I have no links with spot-fixing and my only mistake was that I did not make a complaint against those who made offers. I am consulting my legal advisers and will decide on when to appeal against the ICC ban,” he said.
“I want to come back as a good person and cricketer.”
Butt said he hoped his difficult days were behind him.
“I am happy and relieved,” he said. “I want two to three days with my family and once I do that I will hold a detailed press conference to answer all questions to clear my name from spot-fixing.”
He expressed thanks to those who have supported him.
“I hope that my tough days are over. I am desperate to see my second son who I have not seen since his birth,” said Butt whose child was born on November 3, the day he was sentenced.
The three Pakistan players were banned for at least five years by the International Cricket Council, which has ordered the Pakistan Cricket Board to rehabilitate the former stars.
The cricketers have a right to appeal the ICC ban in the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.
Butt’s father welcomed his son’s return.
“It’s a happy occasion for us and Salman will spend some good time with the family and after sometime we hope that his ICC ban is also lifted,” said Zulfiqar.