Hong Kong - Former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf has urged leniency for suspended cricketer Mohammad Amir, who is fighting allegations of match-fixing, saying the 18-year-old may have acted under the influence of older players.
Amir, fellow bowler Mohammad Asif and Test captain Salman Butt are challenging corruption charges pressed by the International Cricket Council after a news report showed an agent for the trio accepting money for organizing the deliberate bowling of no-balls at prearranged times during a test against England at Lord's last month, in order to fix bets.
Asked about the scandal on the sidelines of an investor conference in Hong Kong on Wednesday, Musharraf condemned cheating but urged leniency for Amir, citing his youth, his talent and poor family background.
"This boy, I would say, is hardly a man at 18, who came under the influence of senior players, needs to be seen compassionately for the sake of his family and for the sake of cricket at large. It's a very sad incident," Musharraf told reporters.
"Instead of destroying a person, rehabilitation of the person is required. We need to do everything to rehabilitate him and set an example for others."
Musharraf's comments came as he plotted a return to Pakistan politics. He announced on Wednesday he is forming a new political party and will return to the country for the next set of national elections in 2013. The former president took power in a coup in October 1999 and stepped down in 2008 amid nationwide protests.
Mazhar Majeed, who was shown in news reports accepting money in return for the no-balls, was arrested and released on bail without being immediately charged. British police also questioned Pakistan fast bowler Wahab Riaz in London on Tuesday.