LONDON: Pakistan's former fast bowler Mohammad Asif was freed today from Britain's Canterbury Prison after completing his one-year sentence for alleged spot-fixing during the 2010 Lord's Test match against England, Geo News reported.
Asif came out from the secret gate of Canterbury Prison. He will stay with Muhammad Haroon, Asif's friend and Britain's first Asian level-4 cricket coach who is based in Peterborough.
Savita Sukul of the SJS Solicitors - Asif's lawyer in charge of his immigration matters and his appeal against the International Cricket Council (ICC) ban - succeeded in finally convincing the Home Office through competent representations on Tuesday afternoon that Asif should not be deported to Pakistan and should be admitted to bail in his own right.
Muhammad Asif has been allowed by the Home Office to remain in the UK not only to pursue his appeal against the spot-fixing convictions but as a result of his lawful rights to reside in the UK until his appeal is completed against his conviction as those convictions are not final until they have been sanctioned by the highest court in the land.
Asif's counsel, Barrister Ravi Sukul, who is dealing with the conviction appeal told Geo News in an exclusive interview: "In a matter of hours, Asif will be released and I am proud to say that. His release from the Canterbury Prison is imminent. We look forward to seeing him. He will assist us with his fight to restore what was once a brilliant reputation that he had."
Ravi Sukul explained that the grounds that supported Asif's bail application were prepared and submitted by his solicitor Savita Sukul. Those grounds argued that the former ICC top Ranking test fast bowler is a man of international popularity who should be allowed freedom and the authorities should have no fear of him absconding or not attending the court.
"It's on common sense basis. Those fears should not be engaged by the prosecution or by the police. There is nothing in his record that could indicate that that will not abide by the court's directions. These representations persuaded the Home Office to make a decision that Asif will be a free man once he leaves the doors of the Canterbury prison," said ravi Sukul, a well-known criminal barrister.
Speaking about the next phase of the battle to help his client clear his name, Ravi said that he will now perfect the grounds of appeal against the conviction under English law.
"I need to convince three Judges sitting in the Court of Appeal that Asif's convictions are unsafe. I can continue my efforts to do that now in a meaningful way as I will have Asif next to me, assisting me with several technical aspects of the appeal. Hopefully the judges sitting in that court may allow the appeal and quash his convictions."
Ravi believed that certain procedures may not have been applied during the trial to Asif's benefit which could have persuaded the jury to come to a different conclusion. It's the absence of those matters that has made me come to the conclusion that this trial may been a travesty of justice. The Court of Appeal may hear evidence which was not put before the jury."
Ravi said Asif is the kind of man who bowls no ball more regularly than other pace bowlers because of the type of bowler that he is. This is a mathematical fact. He was expected to bowl two no balls at Lords on mathematics principles, which is exactly what he did.
There is other evidence that could be admitted which explain the full dynamics of fast bowling, and the legitimate reasons why a bowler would innocently overstep the bowling crease"
He said Amir's guilty plea "could have" affected the decision on Asif depending on how the jury considered Amir's guilty. The legal significance of that plea is that Amir admitted he had conspired with other people. It may be that the jury linked Amir with Asif during their deliberations.
Upon hearing the news that he has been granted bail in the UK, said Ravi, some semblance of natural emotion came to Asif. "He was thankful. He has been in prison since November and was expected to be put in the Home office custody and the news that he will be a free man to walk the streets and be with his friends is indeed a pleasant news for him, his family and his supporters to whom he expressed his thanks."