A hotel worker who confessed to murdering Michaela McAreavey had his head held under water and was almost suffocated with a towel during interrogation, a court has heard.
Avinash Treebhoowoon insists his admission of guilt was extracted with police brutality. The court in Mauritius heard claims that officers also failed to put anti-contamination clothes on him when he was taken to the crime scene at the holiday island's luxury Legends Hotel for a reconstruction three days after the murder.
In another twist, it was later revealed to the jury that a witness who claims he saw Treebhoowoon and his co-accused Sandip Mooneea leave the room where the honeymooner was strangled was himself charged in connection with the crime.
Fellow employee at Legends Raj Theekoy and two other men were accused with conspiracy to murder the daughter of Tyrone gaelic football boss Mickey Harte, but all three had the charges against them dropped.
Mrs McAreavey was found dead in her hotel room shortly after lunching with her husband John by the pool. The prosecution claim she returned to her room to fetch biscuits for her tea and caught the accused stealing in her room.
The evidence about the alleged police violence and the additional charges were contained in official documents relating to preliminary court proceedings about the murder, which were presented to the trial by Dewanarayan Ramdawa, a clerk at one of the island's district courts.
Treebhoowoon's lawyer, Sanjeev Teeluckdharry, read into the record a complaint made by the room attendant to the court authorities in the days after the crime in January last year. Repeating his client's words, the defence counsel outlined what allegedly took place the day after the murder.
"I was brought to Piton police station and I was dealt two slaps at my face, at my left cheek and ear," he said. "I was brought to MCIT (the police's Major Crime Investigation Team) in Port Louis. There I was undressed and placed in a lying position, I was held by the police and assaulted at the heels and then I was dealt five slaps to my left ear and I can't hear well on one side. I was made to suffocate on a towel and I was assaulted again on a table. In the police van I was dealt furthermore (beatings) in the police van."
Mr Teeluckdharry then read what his client alleged took place over the next two days.
"While I was leaving court I went to Port Louis and officers asked me to sit down," he said. "It was about 7pm. I was placed on the table. I was undressed and a pale of water was filled. I was on a chair, I was gripped by the neck and placed into that pale of water. On the following day two officers took me in a van and I was beaten up in the van."