Belfast Telegraph

Monday 24 November 2014

Harte tragedy: Paradise lost as world's gaze turns to holiday island

Suspect Avinash Treebhoowoon (29) is brought to Mapou Court, Port Louis Mauritius, Wednesday, Jan.12, 2011. The room attendant has been charged with the murder of Michaela McAreavey.
Suspect Avinash Treebhoowoon (29) is brought to Mapou Court, Port Louis Mauritius, Wednesday, Jan.12, 2011. The room attendant has been charged with the murder of Michaela McAreavey.
Suspect Sandip Moneea (41) covers his face as he is escorted to Mapou Court, Port Louis Mauritius, Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011. The floor supervisor has been charged with the murder of Michaela McAreavey.
Raj Theekoy (33), faces a conspiracy charge in connection with the murder of Michaela McAreavey.
A distraught Mickey Harte with son Michael.
Michaela Harte (left) in St.Malachy's Primary School where she attended as a pupil and later completed her teaching placement.
Michaela Harte in with Throphy in St.Malachy's Primary School where Michaela attended and later done her teaching placement
Michaela Harte Far Right front in St.Malachy's Primary School where she attended and later done her teaching placement..
Micheala Harte in fancy dress in St.Malachy's Primary School where she attended as a pupil and later completed her teaching placement..
A distraught Mickey Harte with sons Matthew (left) and Michael at their family home near Ballygawley
Michaela Harte after she had received a B.Ed at Queens University Belfast. (Picture taken in June 2006)
Balloons with the couple's names giving directions to St Malachy's Church outside Ballygwley where they recently got married
A distraught Mickey Harte at his family home near Ballygawley
Wedding flowers from the couple's recent marriage at St Malachy's Church outside Ballygawley
Alan Lewis - PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 11/1/2011Mandatory Credit - Picture by Justin KernoghanA distraught Mickey Harte with sons Matthew (left) and Michael at their family home near Ballygawley today.Michaela, the daughter of Tyrone gaelic football manager Mickey Harte was strangled, Mauritius police have said.Michaela McAreavey, 27, was found dead at the Legends hotel in Mauritius where she was staying while on honeymoon.The 27-year-old Irish woman had married John McAreavey, a member of Down's gaelic football team, on 30 December. He is not a suspect.Police in Mauritius intend to question six people about the killing later on Tuesday.
A wedding sign and balloons telling wedding guests directions to the church near the family home in Ballygawley
Mickey Harte (centre), is comforted at the family home outside Ballygawley in Co Tyrone
(From the left) Mickey Harte, John McAreavey, Michaela Harte, Bishop John McAreavey and Brendan McAreavey are seen on the wedding day of Michaela Harte and John McAreavey
Donegal Celtic and Cliftonville observe a minutes silence in respect of Michaela Harte at the game in west Belfast
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte and his daughter Michaella
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte and his daughter Michaela after the All Ireland Football Final 28/9/2003
Michaela Harte, daughter of Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte. Pic by Ian Magill. 23/3/10.Real Woman feature by Stephanie Bell.
Michaela Harte
Irish News handout of (left to right) Mickey Harte, John McAreavey, Michaela Harte, Bishop John McAreavey and Brendan McAreavey on the wedding day of Michaela Harte and John McAreavey at St. Malacheys Church Ballymacilrory on December 30, 2010. Michaela, the daughter of Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte was murdered in her hotel room, police in Mauritius confirmed today.
John McAreavey and wife Michaela Harte are seen on their wedding day
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte with his son David and daughter Michaela after his side's win at Croke Park
Tyrone GAA boss Mickey Harte graduates at Queens University pictured with his daughter Machela who also graduatedand became a Bachelor in Education
Michaela Harte appearing on the television programme the Late Late Show.
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte celebrates with his daughter Michaela and his son Matthew
John McAreavey and wife Michaela Harte are seen on their wedding day at St. Malacheys Church Ballymacilrory on December 30, 2010.
Mickey Harte, pictured in 2006 with his daughter Michaela

It was cool inside the only courtroom in the tiny courthouse. Surrounded by a wire fence, the air conditioned building that houses Mapou District Court -- standing alone on the side of the road -- was a most unlikely location for a hearing on a brutal murder which has shocked two countries on two continents.

Outside in the sweltering heat, crowds gathered, waiting for the cases to be dealt with.

Scores of journalists from the local and international media had gathered for the short hearing in this remote part in the north of the idyllic holiday island of Mauritius. The heat seemed stronger still as the sense of anticipation grew.

Three men were due to appear charged in connection with the murder of 27-year-old Michaela Harte McAreavey, the darling of Mickey Harte's Tyrone GAA team, a new wife to her husband John McAreavey and the apple of her famous father's eye.

The three -- who arrived in three separate vans from different locations on the island -- tried to shield their faces from journalists and photographers as they were led into the courtroom.

The men were all employed at the luxury Legends Hotel where the newlywed teacher was found strangled.

Abinash Treeboowoon (29), a room attendant from Plaine des Roches, and Sandip Moneea (41), a floor supervisor from Petit Raffray, were charged with the former Ulster Rose's murder.

Room attendant Raj Theekoy (33), from Ramnarain Cottage, was charged with conspiracy to murder. It is believed the third accused had arrived at the room with a cart, and fled when he saw Michaela's body.

During a brief hearing they spoke only to confirm their names, addresses and dates of birth.

Family members were distraught as the men entered the building. Mr Treeboowoon sobbed as he entered the court.

His wife Reshma was present, sobbing during the short hearing. She said her husband was "innocent" and accused the police of beating him.

His barrister Ravi Rutnah told the court that he had claimed he had been beaten about the head and body, and had been held on a table and beaten with a pipe on his feet.

He requested from female judge Magistrate Bono Mally that an inquiry be launched and that he receive medical attention. Both requests were granted.

Mr Rutnah told the court the violent murder had tarnished Mauritius's reputation abroad.

The men were refused bail and will appear on a procedural remand hearing on January 19, while a bail hearing will take place on February 2.

The men were taken into separate rooms by police and questioned after the court appearance.

A short press conference was being held simultaneously in the nearby town of Port Louis, attended by the police commissioner, Dhun Ranparsad.

Superintendent Yoosoof Soopun, who is leading the murder investigation, said: "We believe we have substantial evidence to connect them (the three arrested) to the case.

"We presume they were inside and burgling the room when the lady returned and were surprised and attacked her," he added.

Defence barrister Mr Rutnah said outside the court that he had not yet had a chance to speak with his client or receive instruction.

He said the murder -- and subsequent allegations of police brutality -- do not bode well for an island that bills itself as 'paradise'.

"As a result of this atrocious crime, our country is being watched by the international community," said Mr Rutnah.

"I think our country's reputation is at stake."

Hundreds of holiday makers arrive every day and even the immigration guards were curious about the tragic story. "It's so very sad," said one, shaking his head.

When asked, he said that crimes of this nature rarely happened on the island.

And the beaches were still full of blissful sunbathers yesterday, with rowdy singsongs taking place in a number of hotel bars.

Many of the hotels close to Legends, the scene of the crime in the north of the island, are booked to capacity and have no availability for a number of weeks.

Some had not heard of the horror that had occurred so close by so recently.

"Why are journalists here?" asked one confused holiday maker, before turning away in horror when he heard what had happened.

It was paradise lost.

Nightlife Galleries

More

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz