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Bangladesh start hearing on match-fixing

Dhaka: A hearing was under way in Bangladesh on Sunday against nine cricketers and officials charged with match-fixing offences involving the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), officials said.

The disciplinary hearing convened by the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) involves seven people charged with match-fixing including former Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful, who made a tearful confession on national television earlier this year.

Two players including English all-rounder Darren Stevens have also been charged with failing to report corrupt approaches made to them to fix matches in the 2013 edition of the BPL, a Twenty20 competition.

“The trial has started today,” BCB chief executive officer Nizamuddin Chowdhury said. None of the players was present for the closed-door hearing, which is being led by a former Supreme Court judge, and follows an investigation by the International Cricket Council’s anti-corruption officials.

Lawyers are representing the officials and players who all face suspension from the BPL and from international cricket if found guilty of fixing or failing to report an approach about fixing.

Of the nine people, who have not been publicly named by officials, seven have been charged with match-fixing offences, and two others with failing to comply with their obligation to report corrupt approaches that were made to them.

Ashraful was allegedly involved in fixing a match between the Dhaka Gladiators and the Chittagong Kings during this year’s competition.

Local media have reported that the batsman was paid about one million taka (Dh47,005) to lose the match on February 2.

Ashraful, who became the country’s youngest Test centurion in 2001 at the age of 17, was also allegedly involved in fixing another match 10 days later against the Barisal Burners, which his team lost by seven wickets, local reports have said.

Two Bangladeshi cricketers, paceman Mahbubul Alam and Musharraf Hussain, confirmed that they were among those charged with match-fixing, but have maintained their innocence.

Stevens also confirmed he had been charged with failing to report an approach, and has denied any “corrupt activity”.

Selim Chowdhury, owner of the Dhaka Gladiators franchise, has confirmed that he and his son, co-owner Shihab Chowdhury, have also been charged along with the franchise’s Indian CEO Gaurav Rawat.

Selim Chowdhury said they would all plead not guilty at the hearing.