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    Butt and Amir to stay imprisoned

    London: The appeals of Pakistan cricketers Salman Butt and Mohammad Amir have been dismissed by a Lord Chief Justice, leaving their jail terms as handed down earlier this month in a London court. The pair, who had been found guilty of conspiracy to cheat and accept corrupt payments in the spot-fixing scandal, will serve out their two-and-half and six-month terms respectively.

    Neither cricketer was present at the hearing in a London court of appeals.

    The judges rejected a claim by Butt's lawyer Ali Bajwa, who argued that the former skipper's sentence was "manifestly excessive," while Henry Blaxland, representing Aamer, had urged the court to suspend his sentence.

    Bajwa argued that Butt's sentence was "out of proportion to the seriousness of the offence that was committed." Although serious, it was at the "lower end of the scale" of such offences. Bajwa described Butt as a broken man in a state of "ruin and disgrace." "The very fact of conviction and imprisonment amounted to exceptional punishment for Mr Butt," he said.

    Butt's wife gave birth to a baby boy just 30 minutes before the trial verdict. Blaxland had urged the judges to impose a suspended sentence of a length that would enable his immediate release.

    The Lord Chief Justice Igor Judge said he would normally have ruled Butt's appeal "unarguable" in advance, but wanted to hear it alongside Amir's appeal. He added that the judge in the spot-fixing trial had been fully entitled to call Butt the "orchestrator", and that the former Pakistan captain had been a malign influence on Amir and Mohammad Asif, the third guilty in the scandal.

    "The corruption was carefully prepared and the cricketers betrayed their team, their country, their sport and the very many followers of the game," he said.

    "The reality is that all the enjoyment of watching cricket will be destroyed if this was allowed to continue. This is a notorious and essentially simple case. It was a betting scam and they were very well rewarded."

    Butt, 27, was sentenced to jail on November 3 by the Southwark Crown Court after being convicted in the plot to ensure that no-balls were bowled at predetermined times during the fourth Test between England and Pakistan at Lord's last August.

    The 19-year-old Amir pleaded guilty in the pre-trial hearing in September and was handed a six-month sentence in a young offenders' institution.

    The third guilty player, Mohammad Asif, 28, who was handed a one-year prison sentence, had also filed his appeal but his case is expected to be taken up later as he has changed his legal defence team after the Southwark Crown Court trial.

    Under the current arrangements, the three will serve half their sentences before being released on licence.