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Pakistan's Butt, Amir maintain innocence, will appeal

By Reuters

Salman Butt and Mohammad Amir returned to Pakistan on Sunday and pledged to clear their names of corruption charges that earned them bans of at least five years each from an International Cricket Council (ICC) tribunal. 

Former test captain Butt and pace bowlers Amir and Mohammad Asif were found guilty of corruption by the tribunal on Saturday in Doha. 

Butt was banned for 10 years with five of them suspended if the 26-year-old does not re-offend and takes part in a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) anti-corruption campaign.  

Asif, 28, was banned for seven years with two suspended under the same terms as Butt, while 18-year-old Amir was given a straight five-year ban.  

Only Amir, whose lawyer said he would appeal, has a realistic chance of playing international cricket again. 

Five-year bans were the minimum an independent three-man tribunal could impose under the ICC's anti-corruption code once it had concluded that Butt, Asif and Amir were guilty of spot-fixing in the fourth test against England last August. 

Butt and Amir encountered no hostile reception when they exited the airport and both maintained their innocence. 

"I am innocent of the charges made against me and I stand by what I say. I will not rest until I get the ban overturned," Butt told reporters at the airport. 

"I don't think our arguments were heard properly and the ban is unjustified." 

Amir expressed similar concerns with the hearing.  

"I am innocent and I was confident they would clear me. The ban came as a total shock," he said. 

"We are waiting for the ICC to release the detailed judgement of the tribunal after which we will decide what to do but we have made up our minds to appeal the ban in the first instance." 

Butt said he wanted to see the detailed judgement to find out on what grounds the tribunal had handed down such lengthy bans. 

"We will appeal the ban once we get the judgement and study it. But we definitely want to clear our names from this ban," he added.