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Home > Cricket > The Cup > Reuters > Report


Jamaica police say video could be clue to Woolmer killer

Jim Loney in Kingston | March 26, 2007 11:59 IST

A week after the murder of Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer and with no clear suspects in sight, Jamaican police said on Sunday they have video that could contain a clue to the killer.

Investigators were transferring images from an old videotape surveillance system at the Pegasus Hotel, where Woolmer was found last Sunday, to a digital format to preserve the pictures before examining them thoroughly, said deputy police commissioner Mark Shields.

Of particular interest is a video of the 12th floor where Woolmer's room is located. The tape shows only the ends of a corridor and not the door to Woolmer's room.

"It's critically important because it may give us an image of the killer or killers of Bob Woolmer," he said.

Shields did not say whether police had looked at the 12th floor video before Pakistan's Cricket World Cup contingent was allowed to leave Jamaica late Saturday. The players were fingerprinted and gave DNA samples before their departure.

Woolmer, 58, was found unconscious in his room at the hotel last Sunday after the team's stunning loss to World Cup debutants Ireland that knocked heavily favoured Pakistan out of the tournament. He was declared dead at a hospital.

Police say he was strangled and the killer could have been someone he knew well because the door to his room was not forced open. On Saturday, Shields said there were no clear suspects and investigators were keeping an open mind.

Team 'Traumatised'

Speculation was rampant that gambling and match fixing were the motives in the killing. The International Cricket Council sent its top anti-corruption investigator, Jeff Rees, to Kingston, where he had twice met Shields.

Pakistani diplomat Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri, who flew with a colleague to the Jamaican capital Saturday, pleaded for an end to the speculation surrounding Woolmer's death and the Pakistani players.

"The team is traumatised," he said. "There is no suspect or suspects."

Police intended to take the diplomats on a tour of the crime scene. The cricket team flew out of Kingston on Saturday night and landed at London's Heathrow Airport on Sunday morning en route home.

Shields defended his decision to let the team leave Jamaica. He told The Times of London that to hold them "...would have caused a significant diplomatic incident and have an extremely adverse effect on the World Cup."

Videotape

Investigators faced another obstacle besides the painstaking search of hours of videotape. Possible witnesses were leaving the country in droves as the World Cup action shifted to other Caribbean venues.

It returns for the first semi-final on April 24.

"Of course, this makes it more difficult. This is an extraordinary investigation because many of the potential witnesses are leaving the island," he said, adding that he did not believe it would become a major issue.

Police hoped to have toxicology and other forensic test results this week.

In a tribute to the coach, the former chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board said Woolmer's authority was undermined by captain Inzamam-ul-Haq's "spiritual hold of the team."

Shaharyar Khan, writing on cricinfo.com said Inzamam would brood for days after disagreements with Briton Woolmer.

He said Woolmer faced a problem with control of the team.

"Here he found that the captain's spiritual hold on the team prevented his holding full sway with the players, especially the senior members.

"Bob had some cricketing differences with Inzamam-ul-Haq but these were addressed through dialogue and mutual understanding, even though for days the captain would go into a brooding silence while Bob attempted to overcome the problem through rational discussion."

Inzamam was one of three members of the Pakistan contingent who faced last-minute questions from police as the team prepared to leave Jamaica on Saturday.

Khan also revealed that Woolmer offered to quit last year over a ball-tampering scandal in England, which led to the only forfeiture of a test match in cricket history.

The seven-week World Cup culminates in the April 28 final in Barbados.

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