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Pakistan probe cricket rape claim

Pakistan's cricket board has launched an investigation into claims a player on tour in Australia raped a woman in a Melbourne hotel.

A woman approached a sexual assault outreach centre in the city but has not made a formal complaint to police. The player has not been named.   Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer said the players were stunned by the allegation.

Pakistan Cricket Board spokesman Abbas Zaidi told the AFP news agency in Islamabad: "We think it's rubbish."    The woman reported the alleged rape to the Centre Against Sexual Assault during the Boxing Day Test match in Melbourne but did not file a complaint to police.

The spokesperson for the centre told Australia's Sun Herald newspaper: "There are very good reasons for that, but they are confidential and I am not prepared to discuss them."   The woman was still extremely distressed, the spokesperson said.   Police sources said an investigation could not be made unless a formal complaint was lodged.

The Pakistan Cricket Board released a statement on Friday saying its chairman had ordered a "thorough investigation" of the alleged incident.   "Legal advice has been sought and the Pakistan High Commissioner in Canberra informed. Cricket Australia has also been consulted," it said.

The board stressed that no formal complaint had been made and that the hotel management was unaware of any incident.   It also questioned why the matter had taken three weeks to come to light.

Mr Zaidi, the board spokesman, said: "It is something very intriguing that an incident that happened three or four weeks ago - with no lawyers hired and no police complaint made - has been reported in the media."   However, the board said that it would take "exemplary action [if] the alleged charge is found to have a basis in truth".

The Pakistan team is currently in Sydney ahead of a one-day game against Australia on Sunday.   Coach Woolmer said: "We don't know what the truth is or what has actually happened."   But he added: "Personally I don't think anyone in the dressing room was involved."

Pakistan will return to Melbourne if they make the final of the one-day series, scheduled for 4 February.

Source: BBC NEWS


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