Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Murder-accused 'beaten' to confess

Avinash Treebhoowoon arrives at the supreme court in Port Louis, Mauritius

One of the men accused of murdering Michaela McAreavey was told by police his own wife would be taken from him and given to the honeymooner's widower if he did not confess, his trial in Mauritius has been told.

Avinash Treebhoowoon also claims his head was held under water for so long during a brutal interrogation that he started vomiting blood.

But senior Mauritian police officer Luciano Gerard dismissed the allegations as totally unfounded and ridiculous.

The jury at the Supreme Court in Port Louis earlier heard that Mrs McAreavey's husband John was questioned at a police station until past midnight on the day she died last January, before eventually being allowed to return to his hotel.

In another development in the slow moving case, Treebhoowoon's defence lawyer Ravi Rutnah, who dramatically quit the case after claiming Chief Inspector Gerard had attacked his reputation, has been permitted to appear as a witness later in the trial.

The pace of proceedings, in particular the cross-examination, also prompted an official statement from the prosecution, urging defence counsel to accelerate their questioning.

During nearly three hours of intensive cross-examination by Treebhoowoon's remaining barrister, Sanjeev Teeluckdharry, Mr Gerard, who led the murder investigation, denied the hotel cleaner was subjected to any ill treatment while in custody.

Treebhoowoon confessed to murdering the daughter of Tyrone gaelic football boss Mickey Harte in her room in the island's luxury Legends Hotel, but has since insisted the admission was forced out of him.

The 31-year-old and his co-accused, fellow Legends employee Sandip Moneea, 42, both deny they murdered the 27-year-old teacher when she caught them stealing from her room.

The tragic honeymooner's father-in-law Brendan McAreavey and sister in law Claire McAreavey were in court as the torture claims were addressed. Her widower is elsewhere on the island, unable to attend court until he gives evidence as a prosecution witness.

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