By Neil Pooran
A SCOTTISH cricketer, whose tragic death in Pakistan prompted a flood of tributes, faked his death, his widow claimed today.
Asim Butt’s death two years ago, which happened after he visited his Lahore birthplace, even drew a tribute from Alex Salmond.
But his estranged wife, Tara, publicly claimed today that the cricketer – who represented Scotland 71 times – is still alive.
Tara says she no longer believes Asim died in his sleep aged 42. The 48-year-old believes her husband could have faked his death for financial gain or to assume a new identity and be with another woman.
Mrs Butt, mother of their three children, has fought an unsuccessful two-year battle to track down a death certificate for her husband, who ran a newsagents in Edinburgh.
Mrs Butt, who now lives in Egypt, said Pakistani authorities told her no death record for Asim existed, and her lawyer has failed to track one down.
She claims the family of Mr Butt, who played for the Heriot’s club for more than a decade, has refused to respond to her queries.
Mrs Butt believes that her husband could have faked his death for financial gain, or to assume a new identity and be with a woman he was having an affair with.
She said she had left her husband in 2005 after he had an affair with an Edinburgh woman, who would give birth to his son.
She said he also became involved in using drugs, including ecstasy and cannabis.
The couple reconciled and Mr Butt later won a battle against a brain tumour before they split again over his alleged infidelity, and Mrs Butt moved to Egypt with her boys.
Mrs Butt said: “In the beginning I believed Asim had died. It was in the newspapers and that was what I was told by his family, but I became more suspicious when I couldn’t get a death certificate.
“I don’t know whether he has faked his death for financial reasons or to be with another woman. His family don’t answer my calls or emails.”
In 2007 Mrs Butt asked her husband for a divorce and planned to move to Egypt but Mr Butt would not agree to the split and the couple were never formally separated.
Mrs Butt added: “Asim came to see me and the kids in August 2009. He said he was getting pressure from his sister, who has four daughters, to allow them to marry our sons. Asim was in a lot of debt.
“Asim went to Lahore in November to deal with the sale of his father’s house. I was told about Asim’s death by his family on the phone. They had found his body in the house at around 8am or 9am, and said that he had died in his sleep.
“I’ve tried the Home Office and the Pakistani Consulate in Glasgow and they’ve not been able to help me either.”
The couple, who lived together in Granton in Edinburgh, had three sons.
Butt gave the positive drugs test following the Scottish Saltires match against the Somerset Sabres on May 11, 2005.
He claimed a cigarette he smoked at a party was laced with drugs, but was given a one-year ban.
Mrs Butt said: “I’ve never had a penny from Asim’s estate since 2009. His sons are entitled to a share of the house in Lahore, but I just want the truth.”
Chris Jones, president of Heriot’s Cricket Club said they had never had a reason to doubt that Butt’s death was genuine. He said Butt had suffered from ill health before his reported death, and was an ‘upright individual.’
A Foreign Office spokesman said it had no record of dealing with Butt’s death in Pakistan.
A Home Office spokeswoman said she would not be able to assist with the case as Butt was not a British citizen.
Staff at the Easter Road shop thought to have belonged to family members said Mr Butt’s brother had returned to Pakistan.