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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 March 2007, 18:29 GMT
Pakistan's cricketers to fly home
Bob Woolmer
Bob Woolmer had coached Pakistan since 2004

Pakistan's cricketers are preparing to fly home after Jamaican officials investigating the murder of their coach Bob Woolmer said they could leave.

Players have given police DNA samples and fingerprints as part of the probe.

Two team officials will stay in Jamaica after agreeing to monitor events for Mr Woolmer's family and will be joined by two Pakistan government officials.

Mr Woolmer was strangled in his hotel room hours after Pakistan were knocked out of the World Cup.

Police have said that Mr Woolmer's body will be kept on the island until an inquest is carried out rather than returned to his family in South Africa as planned.

Local coroner Patrick Murphy said that the inquest, which will involve a jury, will be held "as soon as practical" but a date has yet to be set.

We have to look at that with an extremely open mind. We have to look at every conceivable line of inquiries
Mark Shields
Deputy police commissioner

Pakistan team manager Talat Ali said his players were "relieved" to go home.

"They're looking forward to going home. And I think that Bob will always be missed by the players as well as the Pakistan Cricket Board. You know, he did a tremendous job for us," Mr Ali told Associated Press Television News.

The team's captain Inzamam-ul-Haq told the AFP news agency that he was keen to start putting the events of the World Cup behind him.

"It's been a tournament which I and millions of Pakistan supporters would like to forget, but it won't be as easy as it looks," Inzamam said.

'State of shock'

"We failed to reach the second round and lost a great mentor who was also an inspirational figure in the dressing room... My heart goes out to his family and I want to assure them on behalf of the team and entire nation that in this tough time we are right behind them."

Kingston, Jamaica
1. 17 Mar: Ireland beat Pakistan
2. 18 Mar, 10.45am: Woolmer found unconscious in hotel room
3. 18 Mar, 12.14pm: Pronounced dead at hospital
Photo: Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center.

Inzamam has now stood down as captain of the national team and announced his retirement from one-day cricket.

"When I landed here, I had high hopes but things changed and became so tragic that we are still struggling to cope with them. Most of the guys are still in a state of shock and when I try to talk to them, I can see their blank faces," he said.

"They are physically with me, but not mentally."

Police say Mr Woolmer - who was 58 - may have known his killer or killers, and are studying video footage from the Pegasus Hotel in the Jamaican capital where he was murdered.

But both police and Pakistani cricket officials have sought to downplay any notion that members of the squad could be suspects.

"The Pakistani team, throughout, have been extremely co-operative," deputy police commissioner Mark Shields told reporters on Saturday.

But Mr Shields told the BBC it was not ideal that they were leaving.

"Of course it is a concern, but we're unable to stop people leaving the country unless we have grounds to do that - we do not have those grounds," he said.

"I'd rather focus on the fact that we're getting a huge amount of co-operation from everybody. Everybody wants to find out who killed Bob Woolmer and really that's what we're here to do."

'Knew killer'

"There is a lot of speculation, as you probably know, around what has happened," Mr Shields said. "We have to look at that with an extremely open mind. We have to look at every conceivable line of inquiries."


The BBC's Andy Gallacher in Kingston says the speculation continues in the Jamaican press, much of it about match-fixing and whether that was in some way connected to the death.

All that is unconfirmed but officials are under extreme pressure to solve this case quickly, our correspondent says.

Mr Woolmer was found unconscious by hotel staff on Sunday, the morning after Pakistan's shock defeat to Ireland.

A post-mortem examination established that he died as a result of "manual strangulation".

Suspicions that the coach may have known anyone who attacked him have been raised after it emerged there were no signs of forced entry at his hotel room and none of his possessions was taken.

Jamaica's prime minister on Bob Woolmer's death


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