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Suspended 2011 WC final match-fixing probe: Aluthgamage seeks fresh probe

By Sarah Hannan

Former Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage has requested a fresh investigation into the 2011 World Cup final match-fixing allegation with the inclusion of experts in the field of cricket such as the International Cricket Council (ICC) Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) in addition to the Police Special Investigations Unit (SIU) of the Sports Ministry, after the general election.

Aluthgamage made this request after the SIU had abruptly halted inquiries on 3 July. Prior to that, the SIU had called in Aravinda de Silva, Upul Tharanga, and Kumar Sangakkara for questioning.

“I am not at all satisfied with the way this investigation was carried out, as the only authority that was to question the cricketers was the Police. We should ideally have the ICC ACU involved in such an exercise to understand the ways incidents such as match-fixing occur,” Aluthgamage told The Morning.

According to the SIU, sufficient evidence had been recorded from the former cricketers and a final report is to be submitted to the Secretary of the Sports Ministry.

“(Judging) by the three statements we’ve got, it was clear to us that the 24 points brought forward by Mahindananda Aluthgamage could not be substantiated,” SIU Head SSP Jagath Fonseka told the media last week.

“Although it was said that a complaint letter had also been sent to the ICC, the ICC itself has not indicated that. The ICC hasn’t started their own investigations either. All three of the statements we took provided reasonable explanations (as to how that game panned out),” Fonseka said.

Sangakkara, who captained the Sri Lankan national cricket team that reached the final of the 2011 World Cup, provided a near nine-hour long statement before the Sports Ministry’s SIU on 2 July. Tharanga, who was to initially appear before the SIU on 30 June, was summoned on 1 July and was seen leaving the building after close to two hours.

Moreover, the Unit had summoned Aravinda de Silva, the former National Selection Committee Chairman during the 2011 World Cup, on 30 June, who took over five hours to record his statement. Mahela Jayawardena was also called for questioning, but the investigation was halted before he gave his statement to the SIU.

Although the alleged incident occurred in 2011, the Police SIU was investigating the matter under the Prevention of Offences Relating to Sports Act No. 24 of 2019. Legal counsel on whether a 2011 matter can be taken up by an Act passed in 2019 was sought from the Attorney General (AG).

Meanwhile, Aluthgamage told the media on 27 June that he was contacted by ICC ACU General Manager Alex Marshall, and that the evidence for the investigations that are to be held locally and internationally will be submitted in due course.

However on 3 July, Marshall explained in a media statement that there was no record of a letter regarding this matter sent by the then Sri Lanka Sports Minister to the ICC, and senior ICC staff at the time have confirmed they have no recollection of receiving any such letter which would have led to an investigation.

“We have no reason to doubt the integrity of the 2011 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Final. We take all allegations of this nature extremely seriously and should we receive any evidence to corroborate the claims, we will review our current position,” Marshall noted.

Since the investigation brought on heavy criticism against the Government before it was halted, Aluthgamage noted that the investigation will recommence after the election, with the inclusion of all parties concerned.