Belfast Telegraph

Our men were tortured, say wives of Michaela Harte McAreavey accused

by Eimear ni Bhraonain

The wives of the two men accused of murdering Michaela Harte have claimed the police tortured their husbands until they confessed.

Aveenash Treebhoowon (30) and Sandip Moneea (41) face a pre-trial hearing at Mapou district court on the island of Mauritius today.

The two men are accused of murdering the 27-year-old Tyrone woman at her hotel room in the luxury Legends hotel while she was on honeymoon with her husband, John McAreavey, on January 10.

On the eve of the sitting, Government worker Rekha Moneea , insisted that her husband was beaten into a confession by Mauritian police.

And the wife of Mr Moneea's co-accused, Reshma Treebhoowon, claimed police tortured her husband who has difficulty hearing and walking after he was forced to confess.

However, Detective Inspector Ranjit Junkhoo, who is heading up the murder probe said there is “other evidence” against the men which will be brought before the court today.

“We are not relying only on confessions,” he said.

The family of Michaela Harte did not travel to the island for the pre-trial. They are, however, being kept up to date on developments.

Rekha Moneea, who married Sandip the month before his arrest, said: “My husband is an innocent man. I am asking Michaela's father, give me justice, this is just political pressure.”

In a village nearby, Reshma Treebhoowon claimed that her husband was “beaten with a stick with wet clothes”.

She said: “Every day I think he will come home. He is innocent.”

A magistrate will today hear evidence in the case against the two accused to determine if they should be sent forward for trial in the highest court in Mauritius where murder carries up to 60 years in prison.

The pre-trial is a preliminary enquiry during which a magistrate makes findings. The full trial is expected to take place later this summer.

Room 1025 remains out of bounds in tragic hotel

Nobody has stayed in the hotel room where beauty queen Michaela Harte honeymooned with her new husband since she was brutally strangled.

The five-star Legends resort on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius has not allowed guests to stay in room number 1025 since Michaela's murder. The bath tub in which the 27-year-old's body was discovered on January 10 has been removed.

Yesterday, the curtains in the room were drawn. The room number has been changed to 1026.

Legends general manager Brice Lunot said couples have requested to stay in the room, but he has refused out of respect to Michaela's memory and her husband, John McAreavey.

“We have changed elements of the room.”

“The bath, the sink, there's a new set-up, it's not a room that we rent if we don't have to. Nobody has stayed there since Michaela.

Mr Lunot said the name of the hotel has not been changed because he does not want anybody to forget what happened.

“What is the point of hiding it?” he asked.

Business is down, unsurprisingly.

“If we compare ourselves to the competition, we are not behind but it is a difficult year,” said Mr Lunot.

“What happened definitely affected the reputation of the hotel.”

The hotel employs 450 people on the island and accommodates more than 500 guests. Mr Lunot also revealed that he was “ashamed” of what happened.

“They were a young, beautiful couple,” he said. “You feel ashamed because you are in charge of this hotel. I want justice for Michaela. I want the one who has committed this to be brought to justice,” he said.

The hotel manager said the family are his priority and his staff had co-operated fully with the police. “Everything they wanted to have, we gave them.”

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