Police on money trail,Sreesanth in fresh troublehttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/police-on-money-trail-sreesanth-in-fresh-trouble-2/

Police on money trail,Sreesanth in fresh trouble

Mumbai police say they too may seek custody of arrested pacer.

Gathering evidence against three bowlers of the Rajasthan Royals,including India pacer S Sreesanth,and 11 others arrested for their alleged involvement in spot-fixing in Indian Premier League matches,police on Saturday seized laptops,mobile phones and video footage. Police teams fanned out across the country to establish the money trail,and check how and where was this betting money spent.

An officer linked to the investigation said the case was still “open-ended” and teams had been sent to Ahmedabad,Kolkata,Mumbai and Hyderabad to establish the money trail.

Intercepts of phone conversations between bookies and players,the officer said,revealed threats in the name of the underworld. “Strong words were used to threaten the players,” the officer said.

According to the officer,Sreesanth was paid Rs 10 lakh advance while Jiju Janardanan,fellow cricketer and friend who was allegedly in touch with the bookies,had also been paid Rs 10 lakh. The officer claimed that Sreesanth used Jiju’s phone to speak to the bookies. Jiju had approached Sreesanth for an advertisement shoot and had persuaded him to agree to spot-fixing.

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Sreesanth’s close friends,including a former domestic cricket player,are also going to be questioned. The officer said that the travel,hotel stay and other expenses of Sreesanth’s friends were financed by Jiju and Amit Singh who had played for Rajasthan Royals earlier and is among the 14 arrested.

Sreesanth’s lawyer Deepak Prakash has already rejected the police claims,saying his client has been framed. It is learnt that lawyer Rebecca John has also been approached to take up Sreesanth’s case.

On Saturday,the Mumbai crime branch seized Sreesanth’s laptop,mobile phone and iPad. Joint Commissioner (Crime) Himanshu Roy said they may book Sreesanth in a spot-fixing case and seek his custodial interrogation. “We are going deep into the case and Sreesanth may be booked,” he said.

He said seizures made from Sreesanth’s hotel room,where he stayed before his arrest,included diaries in Malayalam and English and Rs 75,000 cash. Permission of a competent court,he said,had been secured to obtain “mirror images” of the laptop,an iPad and mobile phone.

The police are trying to find out if Sreesanth was in touch with the bookies arrested earlier in Mumbai. Ramesh Vyas,Pandurang Kadam and Ashok Vyas were arrested a day before Sreesanth,Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila were nabbed.

Police have asked the hotel to provide them CCTV footage. “We want to recreate the movements of Sreesanth and Jiju in the three days that they stayed in the hotel. It will help in finding out who visited the rooms of Sreesanth and Jiju,” Roy said.

Delhi Police sources said the bank accounts of the players were being checked. Police said a Rs 40-lakh deal was struck for the first of three matches in which spot-fixing was done. Of this,Rs 20 lakh was paid. In the second match too,the deal was for Rs 40 lakh. Police claimed that Sreesanth was paid Rs 10 lakh. The third deal was to the tune of Rs 60 lakh.

Police said that they have approached Set Max to obtain raw TV footage of the three matches played on May 5 (Rajasthan Royals vs Pune Warriors),May 9 (Rajasthan Royals vs Kings XI Punjab) and May 15 (Rajasthan Royals vs Mumbai Indians). Police said they need the raw footage to see what happened during the commercial breaks — CCTV cameras are positioned all over and also look at the dugout.

According to police,voice samples of phone intercepts are being sent for forensic analysis to a laboratory in Rohini,Delhi.

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A police team landed at Chandila’s residence in Faridabad on Saturday. Police said they were also going to obtain CCTV footage from a hotel in Chandigarh — it apparently shows Chandila with a bookie on May 9.

The questioning of Amit Singh has revealed that he made the players shop with his credit card. An officer claimed Chandila bought watches and jeans worth Rs 2.5 lakh. The bookies too travelled with the players and gave them expensive gifts.

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