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Pakistan cricket trio suspended

The three Pakistan cricketers at the centre of match-fixing allegations have been suspended from playing cricket after being charged under the anti-corruption code of the sport's governing body.

The announcement by the International Cricket Council (ICC) came as Pakistan test captain Salman Butt and fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer prepared to be questioned on Friday over the allegations by detectives from Scotland Yard.

The three men have insisted they are innocent but have been charged with "various offences" under Article 2 of the ICC's Anti-Corruption Code relating to alleged irregular behaviour during, and in relation to, the fourth Test between England and Pakistan at Lord's last month.

The three have been "provisionally suspended pending a decision on those charges", the ICC said.

ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said: "We will not tolerate corruption in cricket - simple as that. We must be decisive with such matters and if proven, these offences carry serious penalties up to a life ban.

"The ICC will do everything possible to keep such conduct out of the game and we will stop at nothing to protect the sport's integrity. While we believe the problem is not widespread, we must always be vigilant."

The charges mean the sportsmen are "immediately barred from participating in all cricket and related activities until the case has been concluded".

They have a right to contest the provisional suspension and have 14 days from receipt of the charge to indicate whether they want to defend themselves before an independent Anti-Corruption Tribunal.

The ICC said: "Any player ultimately found to be guilty of committing an offence under the code would be subject to the sanctions described in Article 6 of the code. In this case, the alleged offences, if proved, would involve the imposition of a ban."

Mr Lorgat added: "It is important, however, that we do not pre-judge the guilt of these three players. That is for the independent tribunal alone to decide."

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