By KARYL WALKER
A Pakistani senator on Monday blamed lax Cricket World Cup security in Jamaica for the murder of former Pakistan national cricket coach Bob Woolmer.
Jamaica Police have confirmed that Woolmer was strangled to death but questions still remain as to who was behind it and what was the motive.
However, Monday night Assistant Police Commissioner Owen Ellington, head of local security for the Cricket World Cup, said that in light of the probe into Woolmer’s death it was not appropriate to comment on the allegation at this time.
“Our position is that there is an investigation going on and we will have to examine security as part of that investigation,” Ellington told the Observer. “So even in the face of criticism, it is not wise to reply. That might send the wrong signal.”
Last week, CEO and managing director of the ICC Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2007, Chris Dehring, defended the security arrangements in place for the tournament, being held in the Caribbean for the first time.
“We have reviewed security arrangements in place and we believe that they are adequate for the event and it is certainly appropriate, based on the master security plan that was drafted and [put] in place,” Dehring told a press conference at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel.
In an article appearing on the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) website on Monday, Zafar Iqbal Chaudhary, chairman of Pakistan’s Senate Standing Committee on Sports, was quoted as saying security personnel in Jamaica should be blamed for Woolmer’s murder.
“I would say that lax security at the team’s hotel may also share the blame for this heart-rending incident,” Chaudhary was quoted as saying.
The article said the Senate Standing Committee in Pakistan would meet on Tuesday to discuss the issue of the former coach’s murder and the dismal performance of the country’s team in the World Cup.
A member of staff at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, where Woolmer was slain, however, took issue with the Pakistani senator’s claim.
“How can you tell a guest not to let someone in their room?” the staff member asked. “Persons without an electronic key cannot gain access to guest floors. I hope the investigation comes through quickly so we can find who did it and why,” added the staff member, who asked not to be named.
The Jamaican police said their initial investigations led them to believe that Woolmer may have been killed by more than one person and that those persons were known to him as he may have let them inside his room.
In the meantime, Deputy Commissioner Mark Shields said on Monday that the task of reviewing, frame by frame, approximately 14 hours of CCTV footage taken from the Pegasus Hotel, was painstaking, but that the police were determined to do it properly.
“Please be patient as we are not going to rush this,” Shields said.
Shields said the police should hand over their report, the report from Government pathologist Dr Ere Seshiah and statements to the Coroner, Patrick Murphy, before the week ends.
The police are still awaiting the results of tests done on tissue and fluid samples taken from Woolmer’s body.
Meanwhile, Room 374, where Woolmer lost his life, was yesterday still in the custody of the police.
Shields also told reporters at a press conference in Kingston yesterday that the police wanted to interview four Pakistani nationals who were allegedly hanging around the team. The four are believed to have supplied the Pakistani team with food during their stay in Jamaica. Two are believed to reside in the United Kingdom, one in the United States and the other in Jamaica.
“Yes, we are looking into that aspect of it too,” Shields said.