Cronje inquiry 'held up abroad'

Indian police claim to have "excellent" evidence to back up charges of match-fixing against the former South Africa captain Hansie Cronje. But their inquiry is being held up by delays overseas - although there is no deadline for prosecuting Cronje and three South African colleagues in an Indian court.

Indian police claim to have "excellent" evidence to back up charges of match-fixing against the former South Africa captain Hansie Cronje. But their inquiry is being held up by delays overseas - although there is no deadline for prosecuting Cronje and three South African colleagues in an Indian court.

The Delhi Police joint commissioner, K K Paul, who heads the élite Crime Branch department, confirmed: "The delay in our probe is in the investigations abroad."

Prosecution can only begin once the overseas investigation - being conducted by Interpol on behalf of the Indian police - had been concluded, a police source added.

The local police had sought Interpol's help in questioning the London-based Indian bookmaker Sanjay Chawla and checking the bank accounts of other bookies and cricketers connected to the Cronje case.

Some detectives have accused Interpol of delaying investigations, but Paul insisted the complexity of the case meant it would take time.

The crime branch has already arrested three bookmakers in India and a failed movie actor in connection with the scandal, and Paul said they had built up a strong case against Cronje.

The crime branch taped Cronje's conversations with Chawla before lodging criminal cases against Cronje, Herschelle Gibbs, Nicky Boje and Pieter Strydom in April. The four were charged with fixing some of the matches South Africa played against India during their tour of the subcontinent in March.

Paul said the name of a fifth South African player, Henry Williams, had cropped up several times in the taped conversations of Cronje and Chawla. "Williams will be part of the overseas investigations," Paul said.

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