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Jamaica Gets Help in Cricket Death Probe

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Investigators said Thursday they have called in a U.S. pathologist to help determine what killed Pakistan's cricket coach a day after his team lost a crucial World Cup match, while media reports suggested he was strangled in his hotel room.Police have called the death of coach Bob Woolmer "suspicious," but have stopped short of saying it was being investigated as a homicide.

Deputy Police Commissioner Mark Shields said the pathologist, whom he did not identify, would be arriving to help Jamaican police investigate the high-profile death.

"I realize there is a lot of speculation out there but there is not going to be any more comment until we get a pathologist's report," Shields said.

The Jamaica Gleaner newspaper, citing an unidentified high-ranking police officer, reported Thursday that authorities found a bone broken in Woolmer's neck and that investigators were treating the case as a homicide. Woolmer was found half-naked, partially wrapped in a towel, the daily said.

"A bone in the neck, near the glands, was broken, and this suggests that somebody might have put some pressure on it," the officer told The Gleaner. "We are now treating this as a homicide."

The Jamaica Observer, citing unidentified sources, reported that Woolmer's body had marks on the throat and that bones in the lower part of his face were broken.

Police spokesman Karl Angell dismissed as "pure speculation" reports that Woolmer was strangled. Shields declined comment on both reports.

Woolmer's widow said it was possible her husband was murdered.

"I mean some of the cricketing fraternity, fans are extremely volatile and passionate about the game and what happens in the game ... so I suppose there is always the possibility that it could be (murder)," Gill Woolmer told Britain's Sky Sports from her home in Cape Town, South Africa.

"It fills me with horror," she said. "I just can't believe that people would behave like that or that anyone would want to harm someone who has done such a great service to international cricket."

On Wednesday, officials said the results of an initial pathology report were inconclusive. A forensics team spent hours combing Woolmer's room on the 12th floor of the Pegasus Hotel and video from security cameras was reviewed.

"There is no evidence it's a homicide, but we're waiting for further information from the pathologist before make any more statements," Shields said.

Police were also questioning the Pakistan cricketers, Shields said in a radio interview late Wednesday. He could not say if the questioning would be finished by Saturday, when the team was supposed to leave Jamaica, and declined to elaborate on what they have learned.

Woolmer, 58, was found unconscious in his hotel room on Sunday morning. A day earlier, Pakistan was stunned by Ireland in a victory that assured Pakistan's early ouster from the World Cup.

A former Pakistani player speculated that the coach was killed by gambling interests and a Pakistan team official said there was blood and vomit in the room.

Gambling has tainted cricket, beloved in Britain and its former colonies, in the past.

South African cricket captain Hansie Cronje was banned for life from the sport after he acknowledged taking money to fix matches involving South Africa. Teammates said Cronje in 1996 conveyed an offer of up to $350,000 to lose a one-day game against India. Cronje died in a plane crash in 2002.

Gill Woolmer said her husband had made no mention of match-fixing to her.

The losses to the West Indies and Ireland resulted in the resignation of Inzamam-ul-Haq as Pakistan's team captain. Pakistan Cricket Board head Naseem Ashraf and the organization's three-member selection committee also resigned. Their resignations were submitted to Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf _ the patron of the Pakistan board.

On Wednesday, the Pakistani team rallied to defeat Zimbabwe.

"We dedicate this game to Bob because he was a wonderful person," said Inzamam. "He's not in this world now and every Pakistani and every cricket lover is sad."


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