Belfast Telegraph

Mauritian Sunday Times issues apology over Michaela McAreavey body pictures

A Mauritian newspaper has issued an apology in the wake of international outrage following its publication of photographs of schoolteacher Michaela McAreavey's body after she was found murdered in her hotel room.

Director of the Mauritian Sunday Times, General Imran Hosany, said the motive was not sensationalism but was "to recall that such a heinous crime remained unpunished".

Mrs McAreavey, 27, from Co Tyrone, was killed in her room at the Legends hotel in Mauritius in January 2011.

She had been on her honeymoon with her husband, John. The photographs of her body were taken at the crime scene in her hotel room.

Last week, two former workers at the hotel were found not guilty of her murder.

Mauritian police raided the newspaper offices in Port Louis in search of the photographs.

Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said the actions of the Mauritian Sunday Times in publishing the photographs were "callous and unjustifiable".

Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny also condemned the move.

Ireland's Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore said the Irish Government's priority was to make a "strongly driven message of protest" to official authorities over their publication.

The Tanaiste has ordered Ireland's ambassador to Mauritius to meet officials on the island, where the 27-year-old was killed 18 months ago.

The Foreign Affairs Minister said Ambassador Brendan McMahon would also press to know what other steps will be taken in the murder probe after the two hotel workers suspected of the killing were acquitted last week.

"I believe the Mauritian authorities have a responsibility to ensure that evidence did not come into the hands of the media," said Mr Gilmore.

"I'm very concerned that did happen."

The McAreavey and Harte families were left devastated yesterday when a Mauritian newspaper published graphic pictures of Mrs McAreavey's dead body at the crime scene, after her murder at the Legends hotel last January.

A spokesman for her widow John and the rest of the family said the publication of the images in Mauritius' Sunday Times was repugnant and reprehensible.

Mr Gilmore said he had not seen the photographs, which included a full-length image of Mrs McAreavey's body in her hotel room and close-ups of injuries on her neck.

"I would consider looking at those photos to be an invasion of Michaela's privacy and the privacy of her family," said the Tanaiste.

He described the publication as disgraceful.

Mr Gilmore said the decision to publish the images was unacceptable and showed a complete lack of respect to the McAreavey and Harte families.

The Tanaiste, who confirmed he had spoken to Mr McAreavey since his return from Mauritius but would not say what they talked about, said it appeared the photographs had been leaked by authorities.

Mr Gilmore also refused to rule out the possibility of sending Irish detectives to undertake their own investigation into the murder - like French authorities did following the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in Co Cork in 1996.

"That is something we may have to look at down the line," he added.

"But the immediate issue that arises today arises firstly from the publication of the photographs. We have to take immediate action to deal with that."

Yesterday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Stormont deputy first minister Martin McGuinness also condemned the newspaper, which has no connection to any British or Irish company.

Mr McAreavey and other family members returned home from Mauritius at the weekend, after a gruelling eight-week trial.

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

Mrs McAreavey, 27, was the daughter of Tyrone gaelic football manager Mickey Harte.

The teacher was found dead in the bathtub of her deluxe room shortly after lunching with her husband at a poolside restaurant.

Both defendants worked at the hotel at the time.



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