Czech Musician Rules Out 'Piano Man' Lead

LONDON -- Two days after officials in Britain had said he might be a "significant lead" in their search for the identity of the mysterious patient known here as the "Piano Man," Czech musician Tomas Strnad emerged Tuesday in his native Prague to declare that it was a case of mistaken identity.

"I want to set the record straight. This is someone else, not me," said Strnad, who had been identified earlier by prominent Czech rock musician Michal Kocab and two other former associates as the mysterious, silent young man who turned up in April walking in the rain on a British coastal isle.

Strnad, who had been sought by reporters in the Czech Republic for at least a week after being identified by old friends in the music business as bearing a strong resemblance to published photos of the "Piano Man," went on Czech Television to deny the claim.

Kocab, quoted by the Czech News Agency Tuesday night, said he now agrees that it was not Strnad in the British hospital.

The disclosure left officials in Britain still searching through more than 1,000 tips and about 250 possible names for the identity of the man, who has not spoken since he was found in early April on Sheppey Isle in Kent, southeast England.

The man, who appears to be in his late 20s or 30s, with short, fair hair, was dressed in a black suit that was soaking wet. The labels in his clothing had been cut out. When given a pencil and paper he drew a detailed picture of a grand piano and various keyboards.

That led hospital officials to show him a piano in a hospital chapel. He sat down and played classical-sounding pieces, sometimes for hours on end, resisting when he was taken away from the instrument.

In a statement Sunday, the West Kent National Health Service Trust, now taking care of the patient, had said it considered the tip from the Czech musicians to be a "significant lead" but that it was also pursuing other information.

It said the patient's physical and mental health "continues to be assessed." The trust, which has been refusing calls from journalists and referring calls from the public to a police missing-persons hot line, made no further statement as of late Tuesday.

Autor: John Daniszewski, Times Staff Writer
Fecha: Martes 31 de mayo de 2005
Notas: Copyright 2005 Los Angeles Times
ID: 1569 Editar

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