Lara too to be questioned March 25, 2007

Inzamam and Mushtaq questioned briefly

Cricinfo staff



Mushtaq Ahmed cries after learning of Bob Woolmer's death © Getty Images

After Inzamam-ul-Haq, Pakistan's captain, Mushtaq Ahmed, the caretaker coach and Talat Ali, the manager, were questioned by police on Saturday over Bob Woolmer's murder, it's now the turn of Brian Lara, the West Indies captain. Lara was staying in the room opposite to Woolmer's in the Pegasus Hotel and the questioning, which may be followed by DNA testing, is believed to be part of the routine process of eliminating suspects.

After the questioning of Inzamam and the other two, the Pakistan team flew out of Jamaica to home as scheduled.

Pervez Mir, the team's spokesperson, told Cricinfo that the three Pakistan players were questioned for about half an hour. "They were questioned over a couple of things that were previously overlooked." But he was keen to stress there was "nothing out of the ordinary" about the questioning and reiterated that "no one from the team is involved - this is all just media hype.

"The team is planning to leave as per our original plan and there is no change in that," added Mir. The team is due to fly from Jamaica to Heathrow and onwards from there to Karachi.

Later, addressing a press conference, Mark Shields, deputy commissioner of Jamaican police, said: "This really continued the process of cooperation that we have had with the Pakistani team throughout. We need to be absolutely thorough and clear and ensure if there is any ambiguity in anyone's statements we should clear up that ambiguity as soon as we can.

"The Pakistan team are free to go and are on their way to the airport. There is no reason at all why they shouldn't leave the island."

All of this, Shields said, was "standard police procedure when you consider any serious crime investigation." The important thing, he added, "is that we keep an open mind. What we need to do is look at all of the options, all of the suspicions people have."

Sources close to the team told Cricinfo that Mushtaq was questioned about his nose injury (which is likely to be the one he picked up in practice before Woolmer's murder) and Inzamam and Ali about room changes.

Inzamam told AFP that the questioning was routine and that they had been told by police that they were free to leave for home as planned later Saturday. "It was nothing, just one question, nothing special," Inzamam said. "There have been so many rumours but we are going home tonight and everything is clear. The police said we are free to go home."

"The police are doing their work and they ask lots of guys different questions," Mushtaq told Sky News. "It is not a big issue, just a matter of timing. It was little things they wanted to know. We have to follow police policies and everything is calm and OK. We are supporting the police. We are leaving and they wanted to clear everything up."

The Jamaica Observer reported that investigators were yet to hand over Woolmer's room on the 12th floor to hotel authorities and that the police were examining the electronic key to Woolmer's room to find out the number of times the room was opened in the few hours leading to his death.

Sayed Hafiz, first secretary at the Pakistani embassy in Washington, attended the media briefing at the Pegasus Hotel. He said: "The team was never under detention. They are understandably traumatised. But this is a serious crime, and we wanted to cooperate. We're very satisfied with the professionalism shown by the Jamaican police."

He added that Murray Stevenson, the trainer, and Asad Mustafa, the chief operations officer, would be staying back in Jamaica - Stevenson to escort Woolmer's body back to South Africa, and Mustafa to "tie up any loose ends."

Neither he nor the diplomats would say for sure whether the players would be asked back to Jamaica if required - "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," said Shields - and it's still unclear when the coroner will allow for Woolmer's body to leave the country.

Shields said that DNA swabs and fingerprints had been taken from several people, apart from the Pakistan players, and added that CCTV footage was being analysed by his officers. He was also in touch with a representative of the ICC's Anti-Corruption Unit, saying: "We will look at all the options."

"Everybody in some ways is a suspect," said Shields, when asked if he and his investigating team had made any headway in identifying the culprit. "There are no clear suspects at the moment."

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