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Pakistan Coach's Death Confirmed as Murder
Jamaican Police say Bob Woolmer strangled
Michael Clough (clough)     Print Article 
  Published 2007-03-23 11:35 (KST)   
The investigation of the death of Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer is now being treated as a homicide after Jamaican police confirmed that the 58-year-old had died as a result of asphyxiation due to manual strangulation.

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The former English test player and South African was found unconscious in his Kingston hotel room Sunday (Jamaican time) less than 24 hours after Pakistan's shocking loss to Ireland that effectively ended Pakistan's World Cup hopes. He passed away in a Kingston hospital hours later.

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After days of rumor and innuendo, the public confirmation of the findings of the postmortem and the cause of Woolmer's death has cast a dark cloud over the 2007 World Cup and has shocked the game to its very core.

"The pathologist's report states that Mr Woolmer's death was due to asphyxiation as a result of manual strangulation," Jamaican Police spokesman Karl Angell said. "In these circumstances, the matter of Mr Woolmer's death is now being treated by the Jamaica Police as a case of murder."

The murder investigation will be headed by Deputy Commissioner Mark Shields, who confirmed in a press conference that there are still many lines of inquiry and that they are yet to know how many people were in Woolmer's hotel room at the time he was attacked. "Bob is a large man and it would take some significant force to strangle him, but we don't know at this point how many people were in his room," Deputy Commissioner Shields said. "There was very little evidence of a struggle."

Police are investigating Woolmer's movements in his final hours, including CCTV footage from outside his hotel room, as there appears to be no signs of forced entry into his hotel room they have begun questioning and taking fingerprint members of the Pakistan touring squad.

Police have given the Pakistan players permission to continue their plans to leave the capital and move onto Montego Bay before flying back to Pakistan over the weekend, but some or all members of the squad may be required to return to Jamaica to assist authorities with any further inquiries.

With no prime suspects, Jamaican police have urged anyone with any information that could be of assistance to come forward.

"It is our belief that those associated with or having access to Mr Woolmer may have vital information that would assist this inquiry," police said in their statement.

"We appeal to these individuals to come forward now to assist us with our investigation."

While police have not be able to confirm a motive for Woolmer's murder, rumors have been circulating in media around the cricket world that Woolmer was planning to resign as Pakistan coach (or would be sacked by the Pakistan cricket board for the team's poor World Cup performance) to release a tell-all book on match-fixing in the sport, although this rumor remains unconfirmed. Woolmer was coach of South Africa during the time that Proteas captain Hansie Cronje was involved in match-fixing, while Pakistan is considered by some as a hotbed for corruption in the sport.

In Pakistan, President Pervez Musharraf has posthumously awarded Woolmer with one of the country's highest civilian honors, the Sitara-i-Imtiaz, for his efforts as Pakistan coach.

"Pakistan cricket shall forever be indebted to his services and this nation will always remember him for the joys he brought into the lives of millions of Pakistanis. The sudden passing away of the much respected and loved coach of Pakistan deeply grieved me, just as it did the entire Pakistani nation," Musharraf said.

At the time of this writing, tournament organizers and the International Cricket Council have made no plans to suspend or cancel any of the upcoming preliminary group of Super Eight matches in light of the news of Woolmer's murder.

- Pakistan Coach's Death Confirmed as Murder by Michael Clough (read by Claire George) 

©2007 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Michael Clough

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