Sri Lanka drops WC cricket fixing probe for lack of evidence

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COLOMBO (AFP) – Sri Lankan police on Friday dropped a criminal investigation into the 2011 cricket World Cup final, saying they found no evidence of match-fixing by players to let their Indian opponents win.

Former chief selector Aravinda de Silva, and the team s skipper Kumar Sangakkara and opening batsman Upul Tharanga were questioned this week over suspicions that have dogged the match for years.

“We are satisfied with their explanation,” a top police official told AFP. “The inquiry is now closed.” “They had reasonable explanations about the changes that were made to the final squad,” the officer added. “We found no evidence of any wrongdoing.”

Sri Lanka made four changes to the team that lost to India at Mumbai s Wankhede stadium.

The sudden decision to end the investigation came after the 2011 team s vice captain Mahela Jayawardena went to the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) office to give a statement.

“We will give our maximum cooperation,” Jayawardena told reporters before leaving the SIU when officers refused to accept his testimony and told him to return later.

Jayawardena had been called in after Sangakkara was grilled for nearly 10 hours by detectives on Thursday.

The investigation has led to a social media backlash against the government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The probe was triggered by Mahindananda Aluthgamage, who was sports minister in 2011 and is a current state minister, after he alleged that the final was thrown by Sri Lanka.

Another former sports minister Harin Fernando, who introduced anti-corruption laws in November, said Aluthgamage should be prosecuted for making a false allegation against cricket legends.

Match-fixing was made a criminal offence in the new law. Offenders face fines of up to 100 million rupees ($555,000) and up to 10 years jail.

Aluthgamage faced a widespread backlash in the cricket-mad country for implicating former players in match fixing

There was no immediate comment from Aluthgamage over the cancellation of the investigation.

Sangakkara, who is also president of England s prestigious Marylebone Cricket Club, had asked Aluthgamage to refer his allegations to the International Cricket Council.

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