Police hunt Woolmer's murderer
Almost eighteen hours after announcing that Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer had indeed been murdered, Jamaica police have yet to make an arrest or name suspects. The Pakistan players and officials will undergo DNA testing after which they are expected to leave the Caribbean for home. The investigators, meanwhile, are keeping the probe open-ended in trying to arrive at possible motives and a definitive picture of how the murder occurred.
During a press conference in Jamaica on Thursday police confirmed Woolmer was strangled in his hotel room on Sunday and that he showed few signs of struggling with his attackers.
"The pathologist's report states that Mr Woolmer's death was due to asphyxiation as a result of manual strangulation," Karl Angell, the police spokesman, said. "In these circumstances, the matter of Mr Woolmer's death is now being treated by the Jamaica police as a case of murder."
Mark Shields, Jamaica's deputy commissioner of police, is now heading the investigation and said there were many lines of inquiry. "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," he said. "There was very little evidence of a struggle."
In an interview with BBC Radio, Shields said that it was difficult to believe that the murder could have been committed by a stranger. "It is 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."
When asked why it had taken so long to prove the case of strangulation Shields said: "There were no visible signs in this particular case and we had to make sure."
Shields said there was no reason why the Pakistan team would be detained in Jamaica, "but we're ruling nothing out". He said the coroners would decide whether Woolmer's body would be allowed to travel back with the team on Saturday. "I have a meeting with them in morning," Shields said.
Woolmer was pronounced dead at 12.14pm on Sunday, but Shields said "there were no visible signs of life when found". "He went to his room at 8.30pm in the evening and was found by a chamber maid at 10.45am. We don't have a time of death as of now, but I would say it's closer towards the time he was found."
When asked if there were any other injuries Shields said: "There were some other issues around the body which we'll take time to look at and examine."
Vomit and blood was also found in the room, but Shields was still waiting for the toxicology and histology results. "A full forensic examination of the body in the room was done for finger prints," he said. "We have sealed all CCTV records as well as all electronic records. Calls to the room, calls from his mobile all have been checked."
Shields said Scotland Yard, his former employers, had offered its assistance and he would take it "should we need it". Woolmer held a British passport, but split most of his time since taking the Pakistan job living in Lahore and Cape Town.
"We're also in touch with Pakistan and South African police," Shields said. "The ICC has offered us all assistance [with regard to the Anti-Corruption Unit] and we're exploring every avenue."
Malcolm Speed, the ICC chief executive, confirmed at the conference the World Cup would continue and they would not be "put off by a cowardly criminal act". "This is not the first time that tragedy has visited a sporting event," Speed said, "but what we must all do now is to show how resolute the game is by proving ourselves strong enough to move on from what has happened."
Meanwhile, Pakistan have announced that a diplomat from Washington will arrive in Jamaica to interact with the police. "We do not have any diplomatic presence in Jamaica and we have decided to send a senior official from our Washington mission to interact with the Caribbean authorities," Tasnim Aslam, a foreign ministry spokeswoman, told AFP. She added that Pakistan's Washington embassy was accredited to handle affairs in Jamaica.