Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Our men are innocent, say families of Michaela accused

The families of two men charged in connection with the murder of Michaela McAreavey have offered their sympathies to her husband and family.

But they have insisted that the men are innocent of the charges against them.

And a lawyer for one of the accused has said that any statement admitting to the crime was given “under coercion”.

Speaking publicly for the first time yesterday, Manisha Theekhoy (23), whose husband Raj has been accused of conspiracy to murder, said she feels for Michaela's family.

“I have sympathy for the family of the girl,” she said from her village home.

Separately, the mother of one of the murder accused — Avinash Treebhoowoon — said she feels pain for the Harte and McAreavey families as Michaela reminds her of her own daughter.

“I am sad for the girl that has died,” said a tearful Mala Treebhoowoon.

“She is like my own daughter, she reminds me of her.”

She was accompanied by her daughter-in-law Reshma, who added that they have been thinking of the Irish families.

However, both of the Mauritian families maintained that the men are innocent of all charges against them.

Three hotel employees were charged in connection with the murder of the 27-year-old last week. Avinash Treebhoowoon (29), of Plaines des Roches, and Sandip Moneea (41), of Petit Raffray, were charged on Wednesday with murder.

They were both in the hotel room and caused Michaela's death, police maintain.

Raj Theekhoy (33), who lives in an area called The Cottages, was charged at the same court with conspiracy to murder.

He allegedly passed by the room and heard Michaela screaming and then saw two men leaving the room in a suspicious manner.

Investigating officers said that he did not admit to what he had seen.

Mr Treebhoowoon and Mr Theekhoy are said by police to have given formal statements confirming their part in the crime, but Mr Moneea has not made any such admission and has yet to be interrogated.

However, the family of the men said to have made the admissions are adamant the pair are innocent.

“He's a very good husband and father,” Manisha Theekhoy said.

“He's a good man and has never been in any kind of trouble with the police.

“He's innocent, he did not do anything, he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

The 33-year-old room attendant had been working at Legends Hotel since last September and had previously worked at a nearby hotel for five years.

“I am not angry at the police because they are just doing their job, but I would like to say that my husband is innocent,” she added.

Meanwhile a lawyer for Mr Treebhoowoon, Sanjeer Teeluckdharry, said his client has “nothing to do with the charge”.

He was speaking outside the police headquarters in Port Louis where the investigation is being headed up.

“Whatever he has said, he has said under coercion,” the lawyer claimed.

“We will be challenging all statements given in absence of legal representation.”

He attended the police station as Mr Treebhoowoon's wife gave a statement to the police.

However, he declined to give any further details of what it had contained.

Reshma Treebhoowoon had travelled to the station with her parents-in-law and a number of other family members.

The couple had moved into a new home just last week. They had previously been living with her parents.

“He has been beaten a lot, he has not been able to hear properly since,” she said after giving the statement.

“I know he is innocent. But it is in God's hands now, only he knows what will happen.”

Appearing in court on Tuesday on the murder charge, Mr Treebhoowoon had alleged police brutality and the magistrate has ordered an inquiry.

Mrs Treebhoowoon said that he had returned home from work on Monday and had said that “something terrible” had happened in “his section” of the hotel.

“He said someone had died,” she added, but that he had not elaborated further.

She recounted this in her police statement.

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