Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Michaela McAreavey murder acquittals were perverse, says Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness

Michaela McAreavey was found strangled as she honeymooned in Mauritius
John and Michaela McAreavey were on honeymoon in Mauritius last January when she was killed
Michaela McAreavey's widower John and her father Mickey Harte follow her coffin at St Malachy's church outside Ballygawley

Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has said the acquittal of two men over the murder of honeymooner Michaela McAreavey was perverse.

The Sinn Fein chief said he wants a retrial in Mauritius over the unsolved killing as he prepared to meet the country's High Commissioner in London.

Legends hotel workers Sandip Moneea and Avinash Treebhoowoon were cleared of the murder by a jury at the Supreme Court in Port Louis last Thursday.

Jurors had deliberated for about two hours.

Mr McGuinness said: "The real purpose of the meeting is to discuss with the Mauritius authorities the appalling handling of the case relating to the murder of Michaela McAreavey and the appalling way in which the Harte and McAreavey families were treated during the course of not just the investigation but the court proceedings, and the perverse verdict of the jury.

"There's a very strong view on the island of Ireland and shared by the McAreavey and Harte families that they did not get justice."

In the interview on RTE Radio, he added: "I do disagree with the verdict of the jury."

Mr McGuinness was having a lunchtime meeting with commissioner Abhimanu Kundasamy as the editor of the Mauritius Sunday Times was expected to be charged over the publication of photographs of Ms McAreavey as she lay dead in her honeymoon hotel suite.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, Ireland's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, has ordered the country's ambassador to Mauritius, Brendan McMahon, to meet officials on the island, where the 27-year-old was killed 18 months ago.

Prime minister of Mauritius Navinchandra Ramgoolam has said he would invite officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland and Garda to assist police still investigating the murder of Mrs McAreavey, daughter of the Tyrone Gaelic football manager Mickey Harte.

Mr McGuinness said he believed that there are people in political authority in Mauritius who share his views.

"The focus has to be on a retrial," he said.

"I think this is just such a shocking case. As Brendan McAreavey (father of widower John) outlined to me when I spoke to him - John went out to Mauritius with Michaela, his young wife, his new wife. His wife was murdered, he came back to Ireland and had to go out to Mauritius for the trial and found himself on trial.

"This is an absolutely appalling miscarriage of justice.

"I think there are very strong views among a vast majority of people on the island of Ireland that the McAreaveys and Hartes have been disgracefully treated by the Mauritian justice system."

Mr McGuinness added that he has not looked at the photos of Ms McAreavey taken after she died.

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