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Salman Butt to return to Pakistan after early release from prison
Salman Butt is heading home to Pakistan after being released from a Kent prison and deported only seven months into a 30-month prison sentence for spot-fixing.
His lawyers said that Butt, who was Pakistan's captain during the infamous Lord's Test of 2010, "can now begin the long process in his efforts to return to top-level cricket".
As things stand the 27-year-old is banned from all cricket until November 2016, after five of the 10-year suspension imposed by the International Cricket Council last year were suspended.
Butt is the last of the three Pakistan cricketers found guilty of involvement in the spot-fixing scandal to leave jail, after the bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif were released from their shorter sentences earlier this year.
Butt's release is understood to be under the early removal scheme which allows foreign nationals to be released up to nine months before their normal release date – which would have been February 2013, after serving 15 of the 30 months – provided they are deported and agree not to return to the UK for 10 years.
Mazhar Majeed, the agent who was entrapped by the News of the World, is still serving his 32-month sentence, having had an appeal rejected last month.
Yasin Patel, Butt's barrister, said his client was "tired and jaded", and looking forward to being reunited with his young son, who was born shortly before his conviction last November.
"Salman Butt has had to endure a great deal of suffering, strain, pressure and humiliation over many months, both personally and on behalf of his family," said Patel.
"His return back home will allow Salman to spend time with his family and relatives. He will get to see and hold his son whom he has not seen since his birth in November last year. He can now return to his beloved homeland, start to rebuild his reputation and begin the long process in his efforts to return back to top-level cricket. He is tired and jaded. Once he has had a little rest, you can rest assured that Salman Butt will talk to the media when the time is right."
Coincidentally, another Pakistan cricketer, Danish Kaneria, has been in London this week appearing before an England and Wales Cricket Board disciplinary hearing with his former Essex team-mate Mervyn Westfield. Kaneria was named in the court case in which Westfield was sentenced to four months in prison in February for spot-fixing, although he has continually denied any involvement.
Both have been charged with breaching the ECB's anti-corruption directives and could be facing life bans from the game, with a decision expected before the end of the week.