23
Mar
07

Woolmer ‘may have known’ his murderer

Bob Woolmer was probably murdered by someone he knew, a senior Jamaican police officer said today.

Mark Shields, the deputy commissioner, said there was no sign of forced entry into the Pakistan cricket coach’s hotel room and his possessions were undisturbed.

Mr Shields dismissed reports made on a Pakistani TV station that a non-Jamaican national had been arrested.


He told BBC Radio Five Live today it was “difficult to believe” Mr Woolmer’s killer or killers were complete strangers to him. He said: “It’s imperative that we keep an open mind, but I have to say at this stage it looks as if it may be somebody somehow linked to him because clearly he let somebody into his hotel room and it may be that he knew who that person was.”

Police confirmed yesterday that Mr Woolmer, 58, whose body was found on Sunday morning, had been strangled. Mr Shields said the Pakistan cricket party and other hotel guests have been interviewed by police. He added CCTV footage and other electronic records from the hotel were being scoured for clues.

The report of an arrest was made by Hamid Mir, the chief of Geo TV, speaking to New Delhi Television. It was also claimed that a copy of Mr Woolmer’s book manuscript, which included details of match fixing, was missing. Mr Shields said: “I don’t know where that’s come from. That’s nonsense, as far as I’m concerned. There’s actually no truth in that.”

Mr Mir claimed the man arrested was not a Jamaican national. “He not only spoke to Pakistan team members but Sri Lankan and Indian team members too. Jamaican police are trying to get the details and they are confident that they will reach some conclusion in eight to ten hours, “ he told NDTV.

Mr Woolmer, 58, was found unconscious by staff at the Pegasus Hotel in Kingston at around 10.45am on Sunday, the day after Pakistan’s shockWorld Cup defeat by Ireland. Despite attempts to revive him on the way to hospital, he later died.

Jamaican police said at a press conference last night that a post-mortem examination showed his death was caused by asphyxia as a result of manual strangulation and that there was a possibility more than one person had been involved. The death sparked speculation that it was linked to alleged corruption in the sport.

Mr Shields, said early today that police had delayed announcing Mr Woolmer had been murdered until the results of the pathologist’s report was known. He said: “In these particular circumstances we had to make sure because there were no visible external signs [of his murder]. Not until the report was concluded were we able to draw conclusions.”

The Jamaican commissioner of police, Lucius Thomas, said in a statement: “It is our belief that those associated with or having access to Mr Woolmer may have vital information that would assist this inquiry. We appeal to these individuals to come forward now to assist us with our investigation.”

Mr Shields revealed his counterparts in Britain had volunteered to help in the the investigation. He said: “The UK have offered assistance which we will accept if it is needed,” he said. “It is a very broad investigation at this stage.”

The retired Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Condon is on standby to got to Jamaica, a spokesman for the International Cricket Council (ICC) confirmed today. A spokesman said: “He will be available to go out and assist in any way that is appropriate.”

The ICC set up an Anti-Corruption and Security Unit under Lord Condon in 2000. In May 2001, Lord Condon published a damning 75-page interim report into cricket corruption. The ICC spokesman said the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit has a presence at all the match venues.

PJ Mir, a Pakistan media spokesman, told Sky News he was shocked by the revelation that Mr Woolmer had been murdered but played down any suggestion that his death was linked to allegations of match fixing.

Asked if the Pakistan team had discussed the possibility over the past five days that Mr Woolmer had been murdered or that his death might have been linked to match fixing, Mr Mir said: “Absolutely not. The players as far as I know have not spoken about any match-fixing or any match-fixing incident because there is no question of that. I think they are more concerned about what has happened to Bob, they are more concerned as to the reasons and of course if there was anything else something might have come out, but match fixing no, nothing at all.”

It has been suggested that a book Mr Woolmer was in the process of writing about corruption in cricket may have made him a target. Mr Mir added: “Bob told me the proofs of the book had been misplaced and he was very disturbed. I don’t know what was in the book, but that was his only copy at the time. I’m sure the book doesn’t have anything to do with this murder.”

Source: Times Online

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