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Jamaican Police Say Pakistan's Cricket Coach Died Of Natural Causes

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) _ Pakistan World Cup cricket coach Bob Woolmer died from natural causes and was not strangled as earlier claimed, Jamaica's police commissioner said Tuesday, rejecting reports that the coach had been drugged or poisoned.

Authorities here sought the opinions of three independent pathologists and reviewed a toxicology report before reaching their conclusion, Lucius Thomas told a news conference.

Woolmer, 58, was found unconscious on March 18 in his hotel room in Kingston, Jamaica _ a day after his team was eliminated from the World Cup in a humiliating loss to Ireland. Authorities first said a preliminary autopsy was inconclusive but four days later announced Woolmer had been strangled.

Police then launched one of the biggest murder investigations in this country's history, questioning nearly 400 people and take voluntary DNA samples and fingerprints from potential witnesses, including players from Pakistan and other World Cup cricket squads.

A flurry of speculation fed by media outlets around the world said match-fixers or an irate fan may have murdered the popular coach. A British news TV show said Woolmer had been poisoned before being strangled, but this was also dismissed by Thomas.

``No substance was found to indicate that Bob Woolmer was poisoned,'' Thomas said.

Thomas told reporters on Tuesday that a British pathologist reviewed the Jamaican coroner's report and found that he had died from unspecified natural causes and not strangulation.

``The Jamaican Constabulary Force accepts these findings and has now closed its investigation into the death of Mr. Bob Woolmer,'' Thomas said.

Gill Woolmer, the coach's widow, praised Jamaican police for their handling of the case.

``We realize that this investigation has been problematical to conduct given the circumstances and the media spotlight that has been focused upon it,'' she said in a statement released in South Africa, where the family lives. ``My sons and I are relieved to be officially informed that Bob died of natural causes and that no foul play is suspected in his death.''

A final report on the cause of death will be later be issued by Jamaican Coroner Patrick Murphy.

``We hope that this matter will now be closed and that our family will be left grieve in peace,'' Gill Woolmer said.
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