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Tension mounts over Bhajji hearing

Melbourne, Jan 28 (UNI) Even though the Indian camp is expecting a downgrading of racism charges against off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, tension is mounting over the procedure to be followed in tomorrow's suspension appeal hearing.

New Zealand High Court Judge John Hansen would preside over the hearing and has already encountered fierce resistance from Indian lawyers for suggesting that ''new evidence'' might be used during tomorrow's proceedings.

The controversial Indian spinner has been accused of calling Australia's Caribbean born cricketer Andrew Symonds a 'monkey' during the third day of the contentious second Test at Sydney.

The new evidence that Judge Hansen is referring to is reported to be the recording from stump mikes which was not available for the original hearing adjudicated by match referee Mike Procter.

''There may also be some additional evidence such as the transcript and video available from the stump cam that was not available to Mr Procter,'' Justice John Hansen has been reported as saying by the Australian media today.

Harbhajan was found guilty of making 'racist' comment to Andrew Symonds and was suspended by Mike Procter for three tests under level three of the International Cricket Council's (ICC) code of conduct.

All the original statements and evidence presented in the Sydney hearing, according to Justice Hansen, would also be reviewed in tomorrow's hearing on which the future of the remaining Australian tour hinges.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has threatened that if the appeal is refused, India would abandon the tour and return home.

The Australian and Indian players who provided Mike Procter with evidences - Harbhajan Singh, Sachin Tendulkar, Andrew Symonds, Ricky Ponting, Matthew Hayden and Michael Clarke, are staying back in Adelaide to give evidence in person.

Justice Hansen has justified the delay in conducting the suspension appeal.

''Given the time between Tests, the simple logistics of the matter did not allow a hearing to be convened within seven days in any event,'' Justice Hansen said today.

''A venue for the hearing had to be found. The necessary secretarial and transcription assistance needed to be put in place. Video links had to be arranged for witnesses and counsel who are overseas.

''Counsel had to be instructed. Obviously all these matters take some time,'' he added.

According to the International Cricket Council (ICC) rules, appeals must be heard within seven days after the suspension.

Meanwhile, in an unrelated development, a spectator who entered Adelaide Oval yesterday is being charged by Adelaide Police.

The intruder, who was wearing a monkey mask, entered the Test arena when Andrew Symonds was batting.


Story first published: Monday, January 28, 2008, 17:06 [IST]
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