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ICC relieved on 'lack evidence of foul play' in Woolmer inquest

Dubai, Nov 29 (UNI) Internaional Cricket Council (ICC) today expressed relief on the ''lack of evidence'' of murder, match-fixing or corruption of any kind associated with the death of Pakistan's Cricket World Cup coach Bob Woolmer after a month-long inquest by a corocer's court in Jamaica.

A Jamaican inquest into Woolmer's death had failed to determine the cause of Woolmer's death and an 11-member jury said yesterday pronounced that it had not seen enough evidence in the inquest to decide whether Woolmer was murdered or died of natural causes in March during the Cricket World Cup.

Woolmer, 58, was found unconscious in his Kingston hotel room on March 18, a day after Pakistan was defeated by cricket minnows Ireland, and was declared dead on arrival at a local hospital.

Jamaican police launched a murder investigation but three months later, they abandoned the probe when three overseas pathologists determined the former England Test cricketer had been very sick and died of natural causes.

The official inquest had been expected to deliver a definitive conclusion. Instead, the jury said yesterday it had reached an ''open verdict.'' ''The evidence presented was weak'' was the verdict of the jury.

''There were too many ifs and buts and what ifs. It just was not conclusive. We were insisting that we come to a unanimous verdict and we deliberated among ourselves and arrived at what we think was the right verdict,'' the jury had said.

Taking note of the decision of the coroner's court to return an open verdict, ICC today said in a statement that ''no motive or suspect for any crime to do with his (Woolmer's) death has been established while three expert and independent forensic pathologists told the court that Bob most likely died from natural causes related to heart disease.'' ''It is a matter of great sadness for everyone within the cricket community around the world who knew and respected Bob as a fine player and, more recently, as a great coach. Our thoughts remain with his family and friends who are still grieving their loss.

''It is important to note that, following an exhaustive police investigation, no credible evidence has been produced to prove that there was any foul play connected to Bob's death.

''It should also be noted that extensive investigations by the Jamaican Constabulary Force (JCF) and the ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit found no evidence of match-fixing or corruption of any kind related in this case,'' the ICC statement added.

The cause of Woolmer's death now legally lies in the hands of Jamaica's director of public prosecutions, Kent Pantry. He has yet to say whether he will make a determination.

Coroner Patrick Murphy, who presided over the inquiry, said that another inquest was not possible.


Story first published: Friday, November 30, 2007, 0:26 [IST]
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