The South African Department of Sports today said disgraced former cricket captain Hansie Cronje could still be prosecuted for his involvement in match-fixing despite the King Commission of inquiry not having recommended such a course of action.
A private TV channel, which claimed to have a copy of the final report of King Commission, last night said Cronje had not been recommended for prosecution by the Commission.
But Graham Abrahams, spokesperson for Sports Minister Ngconde Balfour, today said the report will have to be studied by the National Director of Prosecutions who will take a final decision in this regard.
"There is no clarity at this stage whether he will be prosecuted or not", Abrahams said.
The Justice Edwin King Commission, which probed match-fixing in South African cricket, is to submit its final report to the government today.
Cronje was expected to get indemnity if the Commission expressed its satisfaction with the credibility of his testimony. However, the King Commission reportedly expressed its inability to give an opinion on his credibility.
"Prior to the commencement of the Commission's hearings, an agreement was reached whereby the National Director of Public Prosecutions conditionally indemnified Cronje from criminal prosecution. The Commission was required to express to the National Director an opinion on Cronje's credibility," the final report of King Commission reportedly says.
"Due to subsequent developments, the Commission is not in a position to express such opinion and has advised the National Director accordingly. The National Director is in agreement with the Commission's decision," the TV channel quoted from the report.
"The deal was that Cronje could have indemnity if the Commission was satisfied with the credibility of his testimony," Associated Press quoted Sipho Ngwemya, spokesman for the office of the Public Prosecutor, as saying.
"Since Judge King said he was unable to express an opinion on his credibility because Cronje's lawyers challenged the legality of the Commission and brought to a premature end, he simply doesn't have indemnity," Sipho said.
Justice King had asked President Thabo Mbeki to close the Commission in February following Cronje's objection.
Legal experts here feel the inability of the Commission to express confidence in Cronje's testimony could still lead to the former captain facing prosecution.
However, Cronje's lawyers today said there was nothing in the final report to suggest that Cronje would be prosecuted. They were confident that no criminal charges would be levelled against the former captain.
Cronje, who admitted to having received money from bookmakers for providing information about matches and players, was banned for life by the United Cricket Board of South Africa.
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