THE SHADOW of the cricket match-fixing scandal of 2000, involving the late South Africa captain Hansie Cronje, is back.
Key accused and bookie Sanjeev Chawla has been arrested in London following India’s request for extradition, and UK officials have written to Delhi Police asking for details about security arrangements and facilities in the jail he will be kept in.
In response, police have informed UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) — through the Ministry of External Affairs — that Chawla would be housed in Tihar Jail, which they described as a central facility following international standards.
Yasser Mehmood, press officer, CPS, told The Indian Express that Chawla was arrested on June 14. “The arrest was made following the Indian government’s extradition request. He faces charges of fixing cricket matches between India and South Africa in 2000. Chawla’s case will be heard at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London on October 3,” he said.
In July 2013, Delhi Police had filed a chargesheet in the scandal, naming Cronje who died in a plane crash in June 2002. Chawla and Cronje were named in a 70-page chargesheet by the crime branch for “fixing matches played between India and South Africa from February 16, 2000 to March 20, 2000 in India”.
Sources told The Indian Express the crime branch officer investigating the case received an e-mail in July, through the MEA, from Andrew Glover, a special prosecutor from the UK’s International Justice and Organised Crime Division. “In his letter, he told Delhi Police that Chawla, who was arrested on June 14, has raised several questions about security arrangements and facilities in their jails. Glover then asked Delhi Police to provide details about their arrangements and the jail he will be kept in,” sources said.
After consulting prosecutors and senior officials, Delhi Police sent their reply to the CPS early in August about Tihar, its history and the standards it follows. “They have also informed the CPS that Chawla will be provided a special cell with special security personnel,” a senior police officer said.
In their letter, police also wrote that the main objective of Tihar Jail is to reform its inmates, provide them with skills and education, and rehabilitate them in society. “We said that in Tihar Jail the objective is to engage, rehabilitate, and reform its inmates. Facts about products made in Tihar by inmates, which are marketed outside, were also conveyed,” police sources said.
Investigators are said to have collected crucial details about Chawla with the help of Interpol and associates of the bookie. One of the associates told police that he met Chawla in London in September 1999 and decided to fix matches to the tune of ?1.5 million, police said.
Chawla later went back to the clothing business and also owned a restaurant in Whitechapel, London, they said. The then anti-extortion unit of the Delhi Police Crime Branch is investigating the case since 2000.
“After filing the chargesheet, investigators started paperwork for the extradition of Chawla. In mid-2014, they sent all the extradition-related documents to the Ministry of Home Affairs and MEA”” a senior police officer said.
The first major match-fixing scandal in cricket came to light in April 2000, when Delhi Police intercepted a conversation between blacklisted bookie Chawla and Cronje, in which it was learnt that the South Africa captain had accepted money to lose matches. Chawla has been also accused of offering money to two England players in August 1999.