Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

McAreavey case lawyer faces action

A lawyer who defended one of the men acquitted of murdering newlywed Michaela McAreavey is facing disciplinary action by legal authorities in Mauritius.

Kalidass Teeluckdharry is accused of trying to improperly influence the jury after referring to an academic document written by a juror's son during his closing address at last year's trial.

His client, Avinash Treebhoowon, was a room attendant working at the hotel where Michaela, 27, daughter of Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte, was murdered while on honeymoon in January 2011.

The disciplinary hearing is due to be challenged by judicial review in Port Louis on Monday. It is also scheduled to be mentioned in Supreme Court the following day.

Mr Teeluckdharry said: "I cannot comment because of this judicial review."

A report by Mauritius's attorney general Yatindra Nath Varma said Mr Teeluckdharry could face disciplinary proceedings after he referred to an "unauthoritative" piece of documentation from a previous law officer of the attorney general's office, knowing a juror was the father of the law officer.

"He has deliberately tried to improperly influence the jury and therefore has acted in breach of... the code of ethics," the document said.

Treebhoowoon, 32, and Sandip Moneea, 43, denied killing Mrs McAreavey at the luxury Legends Hotel where she was found strangled in the bath of her suite. A jury of six men and three women delivered unanimous not guilty verdicts last July.

In an affidavit to the Supreme Court, Mr Teeluckdharry said he became aware of the relationship between the juror Oomar Oozeer and the juror's son Mouammar who allegedly requested Mr Teeluckdharry to ask the judge to discharge his father from jury duty for security reasons because his mother was alone in the family residence. The request was turned down, the trial continued, and in his closing speech the defence barrister referred to a thesis written by the juror's son about the rights of suspects to consult counsel under the constitution.

Mr Teeluckdharry's statement said: "The citing of the work of Mr Mouammar Oozeer was eminently relevant to an important part of the defence's case which was concerned with the unfair and illegal obtaining of a confession by means of police brutality, torture and denial of access to counsel. In the course of my closing speech I made reference to Mr Oozeer as an international lawyer because, to the best of my knowledge at the material time, Mr Oozeer had taken up employment as a legal adviser in London after he left the attorney general's office. To my mind, working as a lawyer in London gave him an international dimension."

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