Cricket mogul Stanford unfit for trial: judge

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Los Angeles, Jan 27 (AFP) Financier and cricket mogulAllen Stanford is unfit to stand trial on charges of running aseven-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme and needs treatment for adrug addiction, a US judge ruled Wednesday.

"The court finds Stanford is incompetent to stand trialat this time based on his apparent impaired ability torationally assist his attorneys in preparing his defense," USDistrict Judge David Hittner wrote in his ruling in Houston,Texas.

"The court''s finding that Stanford is incompetent,however, does not alter the court''s finding that Stanford is aflight risk."

Psychiatrists who testified at a hearing earlier thismonth concluded that Stanford was suffering from bouts ofdelirium linked to his dependency on a strong anti-anxietymedication.

They also found he was incompetent to stand trial due toa brain injury he sustained during a 2009 jailhouse brawl.

Hittner denied a request by Stanford''s lawyers to releasehim on bond and place him in a private treatment facility forhis addiction, ordering him instead to be committed to thecustody of the attorney general to "undergo medical treatmentfor his current impaired mental capacity" and eventually takea competency exam.

The judge also recommended that the flamboyant Texan besent to a medical facility within the US Bureau of Prisons,namely citing the Federal Medical Center in Butner, NorthCarolina, where Wall Street swindler Bernard Madoff iscurrently serving a 150-year term for defrauding investors of

20 billion.

Stanford''s trial had been due to begin this week but waspostponed indefinitely until he can be considered fit toprepare his defense for trial

The financier has pleaded not guilty to 21 counts offraud, money laundering and obstruction. He faces up to 375years in jail if convicted.

A self-described "maverick," Stanford hit internationalsports headlines by creating the eponymous Stanford SuperSeries Twenty20 cricket competition.

The USD 20-million winner-take-all match appalled many inthe cricket world by challenging the sacrosanct traditionalcricket establishment.

In Antigua, he was a larger-than-life figure, theisland''s largest employer, and the recipient of a 2006knighthood.

But after the allegations against him surfaced, much ofhis support dwindled and the England and Wales Cricket Boardcut ties with him. (AFP) AT

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