Match-fixing scam: Bookie Chawla in custody for 12 days

Wanted bookie Sanjeev Chawla extradited; in police custody for 12 days

Sanjeev Chawla, a wanted bookie accused in a high-profile match-fixing scandal involving late South African cricketer Hansie Cronje, was on Thursday extradited to India 20 years after the case was unravelled with Delhi Police claiming that the "main conspirator and kingpin" in the betting racket.

Chawla (50) was brought from the UK to New Delhi by a team of Delhi Police's Crime Branch, which is investigating the case, in an Air India flight and it marks the only second extradition under the India-UK Extradition Treaty, which was signed in 1992. The first person to be extradited under the treaty was the first Gujarat riots case accused Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel in October 2016.

The match-fixing scandal had rocked the cricket world in April 2000 after Delhi Police claimed that it had intercepted a telephone conversation between Chawla and Cronje in which the South African cricketer purportedly accepted money to lose matches. They also claimed Herschelle Gibbs, Nicky Boje, and Pieter Strydom were also involved in match-fixing.

Police had also filed a chargesheet naming Chawla and Cronje for "fixing matches played between India and South Africa from February 16, 2000, to March 20, 2000, in India".

Chawla, a British national, was produced before a court later on Thursday evening with the judge sending him to 12-day custody though investigators demanded 14-day custodial interrogation. Police told the court that he was allegedly involved in fixing of five matches and has to be taken to various places and confronted with people to unearth the conspiracy.

After he exhausted his legal options to challenge the extradition request by India, the UK authorities finally cleared his extradition to India.

He had raised concerns about his security in jail but were over-ruled by British courts after Indian authorities convinced them that there will be no harm to his life besides sharing the details of the cell he would be kept in Tihar. The Indian authorities also told the British courts that he would not share the jail cell with anyone else and would be provided with the "personal space and hygiene requirements" the court expects.

Chawla had moved to the UK soon after the police filed an FIR in March 2000 following which his Indian passport was revoked in 2000 while in 2003, he was allowed to remain indefinitely in the UK. Two years later, he obtained a British passport in 2005 but was arrested in June 2016 following India's request for his extradition.

According to police, Chawla got introduced to Cronje in January-February 2000 and the former allegedly suggested to Cronje, who died in a plane crash in 2002, that he could make extra money if he agreed to lose cricket matches.

Though the South African cricket board initially denied involvement of any of its players, it set up the King Commission to probe the case. Gibbs has told the Commission that Cronje offered him USD 15,000 to score less than 20 runs in a one-day international in Nagpur besides a similar offer to Henry Williams to concede more than 50 runs in the same match.

There were similar admissions before the King Commission

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