22
Mar
07

Pakistan Team gets armed guard

Police officers accompanied everyone using the lifts of the Pegasus Hotel yesterday, an armed guard kept visitors away from the fifth floor, where the Pakistan squad is staying, and, up in a room on the twelfth floor, forensic scientists looked for clues as Jamaica police continued their investigation into the death of Bob Woolmer.

To the relief of the ICC and the World Cup organisers, the game went ahead despite Tuesday’s developments, when a post mortem proved inconclusive with the pathologist asking for toxicology (study of poisons and their effects) and histology (study of tissues) tests. Several hours later, Mark Shields, the deputy police commissioner, called a late-night press conference amid frenzied speculation.

“Having met with the pathologist, other medical personnel and investigators, there is now sufficient information to continue a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr Woolmer, which we are now treating as suspicious,” he said.

Asked whether this meant that it is now a murder investigation, he said: “No, we’re not saying that as yet.”

Woolmer was considering his future after what he called “one of my worst experiences”, but was philosophical, saying that he had to remember that it was a game, and appeared to be in good spirits when drinking with friends on Saturday night.

He is understood to have gone to his room around 7pm and was not seen again. Since then, several people have been questioned but the police have denied that the Pakistan players have come in for special attention. “We have been flooded with calls about this and we wish to make it known that there is no truth in it,” Karl Angell, the police communications director, said.

The Pakistan team held a remembrance ceremony at the hotel last night before heading off on a two-day break at Montego Bay on the north coast at the invitation of Portia Simpson Miller, the Jamaica Prime Minister. They had planned to fly home on Saturday, taking the body with them as far as Heathrow, from where it would be accompanied to Cape Town by Murray Stevenson, the fitness trainer and a close friend of Woolmer.

Whether they will be allowed to go will depend on the police investigation. “As far as I’m concerned, it shouldn’t have any effect at the moment,” Shields said, “but we’ll continue to review the whole situation. It will be a decision of the coroner as to when the body is released.”

Back at the Pegasus, where West Indies, Zimbabwe and Ireland, the other teams in Pakistan’s group, are also staying, everyone was still trying to come to terms with what had happened.

“It has cast a big cloud over the tournament and especially this group. It doesn’t really matter who wins the World Cup because it will always be remembered for the death of Bob Woolmer. Phil Simmons, the former West Indies all-rounder who used to coach Zimbabwe and is about to take over as manager of Ireland, said.

Source: Times Online

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