India’s Harbhajan cleared of racial abuse charge

ADELAIDE, Australia, Jan 29, 2008 (AFP) – Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was cleared Tuesday of racially abusing Australia’s Andrew Symonds, the International Cricket Council said. Harbhajan pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of using abusive language and was fined 50 percent of his match fee by appeals commissioner John Hansen, ICC spokesman Sami-ul-Hasan told reporters in Adelaide.

The spinner was originally handed a three-Test ban by match referee Mike Procter after being found guilty of calling Symonds, Australia’s only black player, a “monkey” during the acrimonious Sydney Test earlier this month.

The ICC spokesman said Hansen, a New Zealand High court judge, was convinced Harbhajan was not guilty of a racial slur after a hearing lasting more than five hours.

“Justice Hansen said that he was convinced that on all evidence submitted before him the charge of a level 3.3 offence was not proven, but that Harbhajan should be charged with a level 2.8 offence,” he said.

“Harbhajan pleaded guilty to this charge, and on hearing submissions on the penalty, Justice Hansen imposed a fine of 50 percent of his match fee.”

Hansen would deliver his full reasons on Wedn