Woolmer~~s laptop reveals no clues: Police

Published: Tuesday, March 27, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Kingston, Jamaica:Investigators probing the murder of Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer are analyzing the hard drive of his computer, but have found no reference of match-fixing at this stage, police said.

Deputy police commissioner Mark Shields said he was looking at the possibility the killing was connected to match-fixing, but stressed he was keeping all lines of inquiry open.

"We have Bob Woolmer's computer. We are looking at what is on the hard drive," Shields said at a news conference on Monday in Kingston's Pegasus hotel, where the 58-year-old coach was found unconscious in his room on March 18, and declared dead hours later. Police say Woolmer was strangled.

Woolmer's death came just one day after a stunning defeat to debutants Ireland knocked Pakistan out of the World Cup.

"We're exploring the possibility of match-fixing, but that's only one line of inquiry," said Shields, adding that investigators had not found any mention of the practice in the computer so far.

Shields said earlier he would also look into the betting odds given before minnows Ireland beat former champions Pakistan by three wickets in the Group D match on March 17.

He suggested he had no hard leads at this stage, but added: "we have a few ideas privately in the investigative team."

Investigators were poring over hotel security footage frame-by-frame in what Shields described as a slow, arduous process.

"At the end of it, it might be that we might identify a suspect or suspects," he said.

A former senior Scotland Yard detective, Shields said he spoke to his colleagues in Britain who offered full cooperation if needed.

He said police were interested in taking DNA samples from anyone who was at the hotel at the time of the killing, and that investigators might travel to other Caribbean islands to interview Cricket World Cup players, officials and spectators.

"The reality as I've said before is that there are many potential suspects in this investigation and even more potential witnesses, and we are nowhere the stage of being able to start naming names in terms of suspects" Shields said.

But he also said he did not "feel any frustration" at having allowed the Pakistani team to leave the island on Saturday. The Pakistanis were questioned by police and gave DNA and fingerprints.

He told the Times of London earlier holding the team in Jamaica "would have caused a significant diplomatic incident and had an extremely adverse effect on the World Cup."

Team spokesman Pervez Mir, meanwhile, complained the "visibly disturbed" players were not being given enough information about the investigation into a killing which has sent shockwaves well beyond the world of cricket.

"We heard on television that he was murdered, but we've not been officially told and we need to know the reasons for his death," Mir told reporters outside the hotel near London's Heathrow airport where the team were resting before returning to Pakistan.

Mir said the team, who were set to fly on to Pakistan on Tuesday, were looking forward to getting home "after the traumatic experience they have seen in Jamaica and the loss of their coach.

"They are all visibly disturbed, and some of the players have broken down."

Mir also complained about the persistent rumours of match-fixing in connection with Woolmer's strangling.

"When a man has been murdered, to divert a murder inquiry into a match-fixing inquiry, that's not fair, because we have to find the killers, then we will know what's happened," he said.

In Pakistan, foreign ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam expressed concern over what she called "very malicious" rumors.

"Our players are already traumatized. They have lost somebody who was very close to them, who was very dear to them, and these speculations and rumors do not help. They aggravate their situation.

"They do not help the investigations as well," she said.


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