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‘Powerless’ to stop Pak

Kingston, March 26: The detective in charge of investigating Bob Woolmer’s murder has said he was “powerless” to stop the Pakistan cricket squad from leaving the island but was working with diplomats to secure their return if needed.

Mark Shields, the deputy commissioner of Jamaican police, said the investigation was now spreading to the West Indies and Ireland teams, which also stayed at the hotel where Woolmer was strangled last weekend.

One of the first moves will be to take DNA samples and fingerprints from the other guests on Woolmer’s floor at the Pegasus in Kingston, including Brian Lara. His room was directly opposite Woolmer’s and he has been interviewed, along with the rest of the West Indies squad and Ireland.

Shields, a former Scotland Yard detective, defended his decision to let the Pakistan squad leave Jamaica, saying he had insufficient evidence to charge anybody with Woolmer’s death. To stop them from leaving “would have caused a significant diplomatic incident and had an extremely adverse effect on the World Cup”.

He said there would have been uproar “if I had started holding people against their will”.

Shields said he was negotiating with two Pakistani diplomats who had arrived in Jamaica from the US to make provision for the Pakistani players to return if they needed to be questioned again.

There is no extradition treaty between Jamaica and Pakistan, but Shields pointed to a 1996 case where Zeeshan Pervez, a young Pakistani cricketer accused of raping an American in Kingston, was sent back from Pakistan to face trial. He was acquitted.

Woolmer was found strangled hours after his team had been knocked out of the World Cup by Ireland. There has been speculation that the murder is linked to the match-fixing mafia.

Shields said that angle had not been discounted.

“One aspect is what were the odds on Ireland if Ireland won. I understand they were extremely good if you bet on Ireland. The match-fixing thing is being looked at,” he said. Generous odds of 8-1 were being touted for an Irish win in the hours before the Pakistan match on March 17.

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