CHANGA BANGIAL, Pakistan, November 3 – Relatives wept and professed the innocence of their loved ones on Thursday as a London court jailed three Pakistani cricketers for fixing parts of a Test match against England.
“My son is innocent and he did the no ball at the asking of the captain,” said Nasim Akhtar, the mother of Mohammad Aamer, tears rolling down her cheeks at her home in the village of Changa Bangial outside the Pakistani capital.
Aamer, 19, is the youngest of the trio and was jailed for six months. Pakistan former Test captain Salman Butt, 27, received 30 months and fast bowler Mohammad Asif, 28, received one year in jail.
Aamer’s mother, who lives in a simple two-roomed home, 73 kilometres (46 miles) east of Islamabad, said she feared she might die before he returns home.
“I spoke to him two days ago and he asked me to pray for his acquittal… I’m ill after this case, suffering from several diseases and I may not be here (when he gets out),” she added.
“My prayers are with my son and only Allah will do justice with us,” she said, watching the television in her living room, surrounded by female relatives,
Aamer’s house is located on a narrow street. The village of Changa Bangial is surrounded by farmland, where workers were tilling the land with tractors.
“He should not have been sentenced after his confession. We were under the impression that he will be released after the imposition of a fine,” said Aamer’s brother, 26-year-old Mohammad Ijaz.
In the eastern city of Lahore, where Butt was brought up in relative luxury compared to Aamer, his sisters spoke to reporters to defend their brother and claimed he had been made a scapegoat for a wider conspiracy.
“The punishment is unfair, it is shocking. Our brother is innocent,” said Khadija, veiled and in her 30s, outside the family home.
“We talked to him this morning he was very upset and asked us to pray for him… His crime is that he was at the wrong place at the wrong time,” she added.
“The trio had been framed and made part of a wider controversy.”