Cricketer Sachithra remanded over match fixing charges | Sunday Observer

Cricketer Sachithra remanded over match fixing charges

7 September, 2023

Former cricketer Sachithra Senanayake, who was arrested by the Sports Offences Special Investigation Unit and produced before the court for acting as the Sri Lankan agent of international bookies to get two players to fix a match, who participated in the first phase of the Lanka Premier League held in 2020, was remanded till September 15 by Colombo Chief Magistrate Prasanna Alwis, yesterday (6).

According to a statement given by the suspect to the investigation unit that a person from Wattala area who  allegedly gave a bottle of whiskey to the player named Tharindu Ratnayake involved in this incident, will be brought to the investigation unit within seven days, as the facts confirm that the suspect has the ability to influence witnesses if the suspect is granted bail, the suspect was remanded by the Magistrate.

Producing former Sri Lankan cricketer Sachithra Madhushanka Senanayake, who surrendered to the Special Investigation Unit for the Prevention of Sports Offences yesterday (6) in Court, Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris who represented the Attorney General, mentioned that this is the first case under the Prevention of Sports Offences Act 2019.

The suspect, who was a national level cricketer, had committed the offence of corruption by playing cricket for money setting aside playing for the country.

According to a complaint received from the International Cricket Council in 2020, the Sri Lanka Cricket Institute also started an investigation into the incident, said the Deputy Solicitor General.

He also said that facts were revealed during the investigation that the suspect had motivated Tharindu Basnayake and Dhammika Prasad to fix a match. These players had been called via WhatsApp through international bookies and instructed to compete in a way that does not affect the competition and to act in a biased manner, saying that they will also pay in dollars for doing that, he said.

The Deputy Solicitor General stated further that Sachithra Senanayake had pressured the players to delete the relevant messages after these players did not comply and said that if they act according to instructions of the bookies, they will be paid 40,000 to 60,000 dollars. Dhammika Prasad had on 22/12/2022,complained to the International Cricket Council and requested Court orders to record the WhatsApp call with Sachithra Senanayake and send the recording to the Government Analyst.

Dileepa Peiris said Sachithra Senanayake, who called the two players after they blocked the bookies’ phone numbers had said, “You complain when we try to do something good for you. I just put in a small word. Don’t tell anyone else about this,” had put pressure on the players and tried to influence them.

The Deputy Solicitor General who said that facts have been revealed that the suspect works to settle the problems, that arise every time international bookies named Shiny and Tebi try to buy cricket players, also mentioned that it is tragic that players who are national treasures and are created by using the money of people of the country, try to fix matches and act in this manner.

He said that it is shocking that, millions of rupees are spent on and trained within sports clubs similar to medical officers, to play for the country and that it is necessary to investigate the property of the suspect.

Stating that the suspect had evaded the investigation since 2020, DSG Dileepa Peiris said that the suspect uses three mobile phones and the mobile phone most required for the investigation was not handed over to the investigators and a statement had been given that it fell into a river and was misplaced.

Noting that there is a 49-minute audio tape of the suspect inducing the players to play for money, Dileepa Peiris mentioned that the Court had rejected the expected bail application filed by the suspect.

In addition to this, the Deputy Solicitor stated that the court has imposed a ban on foreign travel against the suspect and that there are video tapes showing that the suspect had left the house he lived in and said that he is against granting bail to the suspect at this time.

Attorney Chaminda Athukorala, who appeared for Senanayake, said that Sri Lanka Cricket had introduced the art of betting on the game and that the suspect who has retired from the game of cricket is playing even now, for money.

The lawyer who stated that the suspect, is engaged in playing international cricket for money, has not been involved in any crime related to match-fixing or sports offences, and stated that no evidence has been presented against him regarding illegal activities.

Stating that the suspect had returned from abroad six times since 2023 and that the investigation unit had unilaterally obtained a ban against Senanayake regarding travelling abroad on August 14, the lawyer also said that that he had sent two letters to the Attorney General and the investigation unit after the suspect settled at his current residence and the lawyer said further that he was informed to come to the investigation unit to give a statement yesterday.

The lawyer said that there was no mention of a recorder and that it was possible to investigate the audio tapes during the three-year investigation period and said that certain factions are waiting to remand players and gain pleasure out of this. The lawyer said that his client has no need to avoid the Court and asked the court to grant bail on any condition.

The Deputy Solicitor General who appeared for the plaintiff, who stated that either a fine of Rs. 100 million or a prison sentence of 10 years can be imposed, based on the crime committed by the suspect, who appeared for the complaint, also said that the suspect did not provide the telephone required for the investigation had not been surrendered which obstructed investigations and that there are video recordings to prove that he is not residing at his home in Pannipitiya.

The Magistrate questioned the suspect in open court whether he had mentioned in his verbal answer that another suspect involved in this investigation could be handed over to the investigation unit within a week. The suspect admitted to the Court that he had made such a statement under Act No. 22 of 1994 and Clause 14 of the Bail Act.

Stating that the suspect had been produced before him as per the Sports Act 2019, the Magistrate said that there is no obstacle to granting bail as per Clause 27 of 2019.

The Magistrate who stated that no facts have been revealed that the suspect is avoiding the court and no matter has been submitted to court regarding a public disturbance, said further that there is not enough evidence to deny the bail on the grounds that the suspect cannot intervene in the audio tape examination.

However, it was accepted in open Court by the suspect that he had given a statement to the investigation unit yesterday that he would hand over a person from the Wattala area to the investigation unit within seven days, and accordingly, if the suspect is released on bail, the Magistrate ruled that evidence may be adversely affected, based on Clause 14.1 and 2 of the Bail Act and refused to grant bail. The suspect was ordered to be remanded in custody until September 15 day of this month, and the Magistrate directed the prison superintendent to take the suspect to the Government Analyst for the audio tape examination.

Officer-In-Charge of the Sports Offenses Investigation Unit, Supun Vidanage and its director Jayanath Wanasinghe also appeared before the Court.