Belfast Telegraph

Trial date set for pair accused of Michaela McAreavey murder

By Eimear Ni Bhraonain

Two men accused of murdering honeymooner Michaela McAreavey will go on trial in Mauritius in May.

As her heartbroken husband John and her father, GAA coach Mickey Harte, prepare for her anniversary Mass tomorrow in Co Tyrone, a trial date has been fixed for the case.

Former hotel workers Avinash Treebhowon (29) and Sandip Moneea (41) appeared before the Assizes, or Supreme Court, in the Mauritian capital Port Lois yesterday morning.

The pair, who have consistently denied the killing, were not asked to enter a plea yesterday.

They will be formally entering pleas in the case when the proceedings begin on May 22 when the jury will also be empanelled.

As required by the law in Mauritius, they had the charges of murder read to them, and they were remanded in custody and ordered to return to court on May 22.

The suspects have been held in police custody since their initial arrest in January of last year.

Yesterday's sitting heard how the trial is scheduled to take place over two weeks from May 22 to June 1.

Defence lawyer for Treebhowon, Sanjeev Teeluckdharry, applied for communication of "unused materials" on behalf of his client.

Michaela's husband John, who is listed as a witness in the case, will have to make the painful return journey to the Indian Ocean island where his wife was strangled to give evidence in the trial.

He is expected to be accompanied on the journey by relatives.

Michaela died after she went to the couple's room to fetch some biscuits to have with a cup of tea.

She is thought to have unwittingly stumbled into a burglary and was attacked by the robbers.

When she did not return, her husband went to look for her and found her lifeless body in the bath.

Suspicions that staff were involved were raised as there had been other thefts in the hotel with no obvious signs that any of the rooms had been broken into.

After questioning, the two men were arrested and charged with her murder.

The court appearance of the two accused comes exactly one year since they were arrested for the murder of Mrs McAreavey on January 10, 2011.

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