Howard Campbell, Bloomberg
Jamaican police confirmed after reports from the pathologist that Pakistan’s cricket coach Bob Woolmer was strangled in his hotel room after the team’s shocking World Cup loss to Ireland and police are investigating it as murder.
“The official report from the pathologist states that Mr. Woolmer’s death was due to asphyxia as a result of manual strangulation. In these circumstances, the matter of Mr. Woolmer’s death is now being treated by the Jamaican police as murder,” Police Commissioner Lucius Thomas said in a statement that was read by a police spokesman on 22 March at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel. Woolmer was killed in his hotel room on 18 March.
“There is an ongoing murder investigation into the death of Robert Woolmer and as a result the security arrangements at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel are a part of those investigations,” Owen Ellington, assistant police commissioner, said in a statement. He declined to elaborate.
Pakistan cricketers were finger printed and interviewed by police at the hotel Thursday and later left for the northern resort of Montego Bay. The team will leave on 24 March for Lahore, Pakistan, via London.
Team spokesman Pervez Jamil Mir said the players were stunned and shocked at the murder.Deputy Commissioner Mark Shields said the Pakistan players have pledged full cooperation whether they are in the Caribbean island or back home in Pakistan.No arrests have been made and there are no suspects in the case.
“It is our belief that those associated with or having access with Mr. Woolmer may have vital information to assist this inquiry,” Thomas said.Shields said “it would take some force, because Bob was a large man.”
“We don’t know at this stage how many people were in the room _ it could be one or more people that were involved in this murder.”
Woolmer, 58, was found in his hotel room by cleaning staff and pronounced dead later on 18 March in hospital.Former Pakistani player Sarfraz Nawaz on Tuesday that he believed Woolmer was killed by gambling interests he was going to expose in a book, although he had no proof.
Woolmer was South Africa’s coach in the 1990s when the team’s captain, Hansie Cronje, admitted taking money to fix matches and was banned for life. Woolmer was never implicated.His widow, Gill Woolmer, said her husband had not recently mentioned anything about match fixing.
Lord Paul Congdon, head of the International Cricket Council’s anti-corruption unit, will investigate if corruption played a role in Woolmer’s death, ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed said.The Jamaican police have also been in contact with the ICC anti-corruption unit, said police spokesman Karl Angell.
Earlier 22 March, Assistant Police Commissioner Les Green, formerly of Scotland Yard, said the team was fingerprinted as part of standard procedure “to eliminate persons from fingerprints which would be found in the room.”
“After a thorough investigation, fingerprints not belonging to Mr. Woolmer were found in the room,” he told The Associated Press.Speaking on British TV before the police announcement, Gill Woolmer had not ruled out that her husband was murdered.
“I mean some of the cricketing fraternity, fans are extremely volatile and passionate about the game and what happens in the game, and also a lot of it in Asia, so I suppose there is always the possibility that it could be that (murder),” she told Sky Sports in an interview from her home in Cape Town, South Africa.“It fills me with horror,” she said. “I just can’t believe that people would behave like that or that anyone would want to harm someone who has done such a great service to international cricket.”
The murder investigation announcement happened just after 5 am in Pakistan, where TV broadcasters ran news alerts along the bottom of the screens.The Jamaica Gleaner newspaper, citing an unnamed high-ranking police officer, had reported in its Thursday edition that authorities found a bone broken in Woolmer’s neck. The Jamaica Observer newspaper, citing unnamed sources, reported that Woolmer’s body had marks on the throat and that bones in the lower part of his face were broken.When Shields was asked about the condition of the body, he declined to comment.
“There are some issues surrounding marks on his body, but for the moment I would rather we stick to the cause of death, which is asphyxia,” he said.Britain’s Scotland Yard has offered its help, but Jamaican authorities have yet to make a decision on that proposal.On Wednesday, a forensics team spent hours combing Woolmer’s room on the 12th floor and reviewing security cameras from the hotel in Kingston.
Pakistan played its last match at the World Cup on Wednesday, the team rallying around Inzamam-ul-Haq to ensure the captain’s last match was a proper tribute for Woolmer and not another debacle.“We dedicate this game to Bob because he was a wonderful person,” Inzamam said. “He’s not in this world now and every Pakistani and every cricket lover is sad.”