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'Heart disease led to Woolmer's death'

cricket Updated: Jun 14, 2007 15:33 IST
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Heart disease likely killed Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer, authorities said while an opposition leader in Jamaica's parliament called for firing the pathologist who set off a global murder investigation by concluding he had been strangled.

Karl Angell, a spokesman for the Jamaican Constabulary Force, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that police are "99 per cent sure" Woolmer died from heart failure but said it will be up to the coroner to issue the official cause of death.

South African pathologist Lorna J Martin, who conducted one of three independent autopsies on Woolmer, also told the AP that Woolmer's death was most likely related to heart problems. "Taking into account his medical history and the findings of the autopsy, it looks very certainly like it's a cardiac cause of death," Martin, who is head of forensic medicine and toxicology at the University of Cape Town, said in a phone interview.

Jamaican pathologist Dr Ere Seshaiah had previously concluded Woolmer had been strangled in his hotel room in March after his team was ousted from the Cricket World Cup in a surprise loss to Ireland.

The announcement shocked the cricket world and triggered a high-profile homicide investigation. But on Tuesday Jamaican police said three independent pathologists from Britain, South Africa and Canada determined Woolmer died of natural causes, and closed the murder probe.

They did not disclose the exact cause of death, pending the release of a coroner's report.

Opposition lawmaker Derrick Smith called for Seshaiah to be fired.

"He led the investigation team down a wrong path," Smith said outside parliament. "Now that we have found out that he has made an error, he should be terminated."

Seshaiah reportedly said he still believes Woolmer was strangled in his hotel room.

"I am sticking to my findings. He was murdered," Dr Ere Seshaiah told The Jamaica Observer.

Seshaiah, who has not responded to requests for comment from the AP, told the Observer he is confident the coach was slain. "Woolmer is not a first for me," he said. "I have been doing autopsies here since 1995."

Security Minister Peter Phillips ordered a review of the probe into Woolmer's death to assess "standards of professionalism" shown by all medical and police investigators. A retired judge, Ian Forte, will issue a report in six weeks, Phillips told lawmakers in parliament.

Associated Press writer Rohan Powell contributed to this report from Kingston, Jamaica.