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Gibbs open to prosecution

New Delhi, Oct. 12: For the first time, Herschelle Gibbs has confessed his role in the match-fixing scandal before an authority with the powers to prosecute the accused.

The cricketer today told Delhi police he had agreed to accept money to help throw a match during the India-South Africa one-day series in 2000.

Though no chargesheet is being filed against him yet, the police claimed to be following up on “several leads” the cricketer had provided.

Gibbs revealed, for the first time, that his then teammate Derek Crookes, too, had accepted captain Hansie Cronje’s offer of money to throw the Faridabad game (which South Africa, however, won).

Gibbs had earlier confessed before the King’s Commission, the South African probe panel that banned him for six months. But it wasn’t a criminal probe and he couldn’t be legally punished for anything he admitted before it.

Gibbs also said the entire South African team had received an offer to lose a match in 1996. “Just two members (not including Gibbs) refused, so the entire team had to reject the offer,” an officer said.

Gibbs arrived at the police headquarters with lawyer Peter Whelan, South African high commissioner Sehloho Francis Moloi, and his usual swagger. The swagger didn’t last long.

As questions flew at him over a meal of mutton and rice at a police mess in Daryaganj, where he and his lawyer were taken, the player was almost gasping for breath. “He kept asking for water. He even refused tea, he was so tense and scared,” a source said.

Joint commissioner Ranjit Narayan, leader of the interrogators, said Gibbs had thought that as long as no monetary transaction between the bookie and him could be proved, he was innocent. But he was shown a copy of the Indian Penal Code, whose Section 120A says that just accepting the offer makes him guilty of criminal conspiracy, whether or not he received the money.

“He told us he hadn’t received any money, but we plan to check his bank accounts,” Narayan said.

Eighteen questions, which the police had earlier sent him without receiving “satisfactory” answers, were fired in quick succession and three new ones added. Gibbs admitted speaking to Hamid Qasim “Banjo”, a South African bookie also linked to Mohammed Azharuddin and other Indian cricketers accused of match- fixing.

Gibbs was told he would have to appear before the police again, perhaps sometime after the ICC Champions Trophy. He ate no dessert.

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