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Michaela murder trial: Widower John jostled outside courthouse

The opening day of the trial of two men accused on the honeymoon murder of Northern Ireland woman Michaela McAreavey saw chaotic scenes as her widower John had to battle through an unruly crowd to get to court.

A jury panel - made up of six men and three women - was sworn in this morning.

Defendants Avinash Treebhoowoon and Sandip Moneea are accused of strangling Michaela - the daughter of Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte - during the couple's honeymoon in Mauritius.

Both men were hotel employees.

The jury selection process in the packed Court 5 of the Mauritian Supreme Court took just over an hour.

Jurors then retired to select a foreman.

Earlier, there were chaotic scenes outside as the two accused arrived.

Mrs McAreavey's widower, John, also had to battle through an unruly crowd to get to court.

Defendants Avinash Treebhoowoon and Sandip Moneea were led into the dock of court as almost 200 people crammed into every available space inside. Scores stood at the back.

Relatives of the accused were also jostled as police struggled to control the flow of people into court.

Mr McAreavey was accompanied by his sister Claire, father Brendan and a brother of his late wife, Mark Harte.

Mr McAreavey sat in court for a short period but was then was asked to leave because he is a witness in the case.

Mrs McAreavey was found dead in the bathtub of her luxury hotel room on the Indian Ocean island paradise last January - just two weeks after her wedding.

The 27-year-old teacher had momentarily left her new husband beside the pool of the five-star Legends Hotel to fetch some biscuits for a cup of tea.

The case against hotel room attendant Treebhoowoon, 30, and floor supervisor Moneea, 42, is being heard in the Supreme Court building in the capital city, Port Louis.

Treebhoowoon, from Plaine des Roches, and Moneea, from Petit Raffray, deny premeditated murder.

Security has been ramped up around the old French colonial court building for what is one the most high-profile criminal cases ever held on the island.

Though most Mauritians speak a variant of French as their first language, court proceedings will be heard in English.

Mrs McAreavey, from Ballygawley, Co Tyrone, was the only daughter of Mr Harte, the GAA boss who has steered his native county to three All Ireland championships.

Mr McAreavey, an accountant and talented Gaelic footballer from Co Down, flew back to the island last Friday. Mr Harte is not attending.

Judge Mr Justice Prithviraj Fecknah is presiding over the trial, which is expected to last two weeks. More than 30 witnesses are listed to give evidence.

The Legends Hotel, which has since been renamed the Lux Hotel, is in the fishing village of Grand Gaube, close to Mauritius's Grand Bay.

Mrs McAreavey taught religious education and the Irish language at St Patrick's Academy in Dungannon, Co Tyrone.

Her Requiem Mass was held close to her family home, at St Malachy's Chapel in Ballymacilroy - the church where she was married a fortnight before she was killed.

Then-Irish president Mary McAleese was among dignitaries at a funeral attended by more than 3,000 people, as the newlywed was buried in her wedding dress.

Belfast Telegraph


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