TELFORD VICE, Centurion
FIXING accused Gulam Bodi has lodged his plea, which leaves his immediate future in the hands of Cricket SA (CSA). And it would appear Bodi has admitted guilt.
Bodi’s lawyer, Ayoob Kaka, confirmed on Thursday that his client had answered the charge sheet, which is believed to be 13 pages long.
“The ball is now in CSA’s court,” Kaka said. “They have to decide whether they want to refer the matter to a tribunal or do they accept the plea. Depending on their response, we either make a deal or we go to court.”
In December, CSA suspended Bodi and charged him with “contriving to fix, or otherwise improperly influence aspects of the 2015 (franchise) T20 series …”
Kaka would not reveal the nature of Bodi’s plea – “I’d love to tell you but I can’t” – and the charge sheet has not been made public. However, reading between the lines it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Bodi has admitted to at least some of what he has been accused of doing.
Legal sources said on Thursday that Bodi might have confessed to a lesser charge in the hopes of receiving a lighter sanction than he would earn if he fought and lost a bigger battle with CSA.
In any event, a plea of not guilty would not require CSA’s acceptance. It would mean the process would move to its next, adversarial, stage.
But CSA will also have to tread warily. While the balance of probabilities is the guiding principle in civil procedures like disciplinary hearings, criminal courts only convict when the facts of the case are proved beyond reasonable doubt.
So even though the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act of 2004 criminalises match-fixing and spot-fixing in sport, making evidence stick well enough to earn a conviction is difficult.
Much of the communication between fixers, intermediaries and players is purposefully not recorded. Even when recordings are found, judges’ interpretations of entrapment can become a significant hurdle to successful prosecutions.
Which means CSA could be better off making a deal with Bodi and using whatever information he has revealed to them to pursue other suspects in the fixing ring.
A clue in that direction could be the fact that CSA said last Thursday that Bodi was “presently” assisting them in their probe.
That is a change from what CSA said in December, that part of what the then unnamed “intermediary” – Bodi – had been charged with was “failing or refusing, without compelling justification, to co-operate with an investigation carried out by CSA’s designated anti-corruption official”.