Pearl murder investigator to assist Jamaica police

Published: Tuesday, April 3, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Karachi:A Pakistani policeman who led the probe into the murder of US reporter Daniel Pearl will travel to Jamaica to help police investigating the death of cricket coach Bob Woolmer, officials said Tuesday.

Senior police investigator Mir Zubair Mahmood is being accompanied by another security official and both are expected to leave on Wednesday, Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Naseem Ashraf told AFP.

"We are sending two highly qualified investigators to Jamaica including Mir Zubair, who had resolved the Daniel Pearl case," Ashraf said.

"The investigators will not only assess the Jamaican police, they will find out the progress in the investigation so far. They will stay till the outcome of the final probe," he added.

Wall Street Journal reporter Pearl was kidnapped in the southern city of Karachi January 2002 while researching a story on Islamic extremists. A video of his decapitation was later delivered to the US consulate.

Police quickly caught a British-born militant, Sheikh Omar, and three Pakistani militants in connection with the crime. They were sentenced to death in 2002 but have appealed against the verdict.

Investigator Zubair said his new task was a major challenge as all Pakistanis wanted to know who killed Woolmer, who was found strangled at the Pegasus Hotel on March 18.

"It's a big, big responsibility on our shoulders and I hope we will be able to live up to the expectations," he said.

The investigator said however that Woolmer's case was still being handled by the Jamaican police, under Jamaican law, he said.

"Our terms of reference are limited. We will only assess them and exchange information," Zubair said.

Pakistani officials have privately expressed frustration at the pace of the probe into the murder of Woolmer, which came a day after Pakistan were knocked out of the cricket World Cup

Jamaican detectives leading the inquiry said Monday they were studying the possibility that poison was used to incapacitate the burly coach before he was strangled.

However, the fact detectives are still awaiting toxicology reports on Woolmer more than two weeks after his death has led to questions over whether Jamaica's criminal justice system is capable of handling such a complex inquiry.

Four police officers from Britain's Scotland Yard are due to arrive in Kingston on Tuesday to review the course of the investigation.

Ashraf, who was himself due to leave for South Africa Tuesday to attend the memorial service for Woolmer, reiterated that no Pakistani player or official had any role in Woolmer's death.

"I can say in categorical terms that no Pakistani player or officials have anything to do with this crime," he said.


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