Tuesday, April 11, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Cronje’s Kochi links
South African national was go-between
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, April 10 — Raids in the betting scandal in the recently concluded India-South Africa cricket series continued throughout the day, with the Delhi Police focusing on the Kochi connection, where it is alleged the entire conspiracy was hatched.

The police was apparently looking for a South African national, who is alleged to have played a major role in fixing the matches.

The police personnel although today refused to divulge the identity of the man said they had vital clues highlighting his central role.

The police also asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate various bank deals which were a part of the betting scandal. A formal request was reportedly made to the CBI in this connection, specially as it would again require help from Interpol. It is suspected that a large amount of money exchanged hands and was deposited in bank accounts abroad. The police said the entire conspiracy was hatched in Kochi.

The first meeting between Sanjay Chawla and Hansie Cronje took place at Hotel Taj Residency at Kochi on March 9, the day the first match of Pepsi series was held, police sources said.

A team of the Delhi Police has left for Kochi to arrest another person suspected to be involved in the conspiracy.

The sources said a raid had been conducted at the residence of Gagan Chawla, brother of Sanjay Chawla at NOIDA and Jangpura in South Delhi. The police also raided the house of Ramesh Kalra, brother of Rajesh Kalra at Alaknanda.

The CBI has been asked to investigate the bank accounts of Hansie Cronje and Sanjay Chawla with the assistance of Interpol.

But the police may have to wait for a few more days to question Kishan Kumar, brother of slain music baron, Gulshan Kumar in this connection as the medical panel that examined him has declared him unfit for “cross questioning”.

The panel said though there was considerable improvement in his health, he was not in a position to undergo cross questioning for the next 48 to 72 hours, Mahesh Sharma, chairman of Kailash Hospital where Kishan Kumar is admitted, told mediapersons.

The panel which conducted several tests opined that he could be shifted to the general ward from the ICU of the hospital. Talking to mediapersons Bhushan Kumar, son of late Gulshan Kumar, said, “My uncle is not involved in the match fixing conspiracy.”Back


Pretoria seeks tapes, FIR
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, April 10 — Even as South Africa today formally sought access to the tapes allegedly containing the conversation between South African cricket captain Hansie Cronje and the Indian bookie, suggesting the fixing of matches between the two countries, India undertook a damage control exercise stating that “ the law will take its own course”.

The South African High Commissioner to Delhi, Ms Maite Nkoana Mashabane, asked the Joint Secretary (Africa), Mr Pavan Verma, for the tapes and the copy of the first information report (FIR) during a 45-minute meeting in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

After the meeting, an MEA statement said: “The Delhi police has registered a case of criminal conspiracy, fraud and cheating against certain individuals of Indian nationality and the South African cricket captain Hansie Cronje, on the basis of evidence which they believe they will be able to sustain in a court of law.”

“The law will take its own course”, the statement said adding that Delhi had informed the South African side “prior to the case being made public”.

The statement also stressed that Delhi had “close and cordial relations”with South Africa. “We will remain , as required, in touch with the South African Government in the coming days in this matter”, the statement said.

While the MEA claimed that Delhi had informed Pretoria prior to the case being made public, the South African High Commissioner said: “The formal and first official information, they are getting is now”.

Asked about Ms Mashabane’s remarks that Pretoria was formally and officially informed today, an MEA spokesperson said the Indian High Commissioner in South Africa, Mr Harsh Bhasin had informed Pretoria prior to the case being made public.

When asked as to when exactly did India inform South Africa about the case, the spokesperson expressed inability to tell the media about the date and time saying “I don’t know the date”.

Even the South African envoy tried to underplay the incident saying she had not come to lodge a protest with the Indian Government on the episode.

However, Ms Mashabane said her government would be waiting to hear from the External Affairs Minister.

Meanwhile, the Indian High Commissioner in Pretoria is expected to hold talks with the Foreign Office officials late today.

A senior high commission official denied that Mr Cronje’s phone was tapped. “The police which was investigating someone else came upon this conversation between Cronje and a businessman”, he said.

He rejected claims in the South African media that the Indian police was targeting its cricketers because the Proteas had broken India’s 13-year unbeaten test series record at home. The match-fixing row had caused a wide debate with radio, television and newspapers giving the story the top billing.

Mr Cronje’s denial at a press conference yesterday was headline news in all television and radio news bulletins and the main story in newspapers today.

The Johannesburg-based “Beeld” newspaper said in a front page article that India must provide proof, while the Durban-based “Mercury” said in a front page lead story “Nothing to hide, says Cronje”. It also carried another front page story headlined “Match-fixing claim another blow to cricket”.

In most newspapers and audio reports, South African cricket officials expressed anger at claims that Cronje and other players’ phones were tapped.

Though India and South Africa have no bilateral extradition treaty, official sources said local courts will have to issue summons if they found there was a criminal case on the basis of the FIR.

They said the summons to the South African players will have to be served through the South African judicial authority. The sources said keeping in view the international ramifications of the case, Interpol will have to involve in the investigation.Back

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