Key witness ‘ignored’ in Michaela case

Published Wednesday, 07 November 2012
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A key prosecution witness in the Michaela McAreavey murder trial may not have been called to testify because his account would cast doubt on a State witness granted immunity from prosecution for murder.

Key witness ‘ignored’ in Michaela case
John and Michaela McAreavey on their wedding day. (© Family photo)

That's one of the conclusions of a UTV Insight Special documentary 'Murder in Mauritius' which investigates the failed police probe on the island.

In the programme aired on Wednesday night, UTV journalist Chris Moore examined why key witnesses were not called to give evidence in court.

One of those is hotel bell boy Rajiv Bhujun who was the first into the room where Michaela was killed.

The 27-year-old newlywed, daughter of Tyrone gaelic football boss Mickey Harte, was found dead in her luxury room at the exclusive Legends Hotel on the holiday island in January 2011.

Insight revealed that prosecutors ignored a potentially important testimony from Mr Bhujun, who let John McAreavey into the hotel room to find Michaela had been murdered.

His original statement calls into question the account by the State's key witness, Raj Theekoy, a room attendant at the hotel.

I went inside the room and I noticed that the sliding door on the balcony facing the ocean was open and the wind was blowing, pushing the curtains.

Rajiv Bhujun's police statement

If Mr Bhujun's testimony is correct, it would mean that Michaela's killer or killers may have still been in the room when John was trying to get in and the patio doors could have been used by them as an escape route.

The State prosecutor Medhi Manrakhan told the programme that they couldn't locate Mr Bhujun to bring him to the trial.

But he also said that he would not throw out Mr Theekoy's testimony that he saw the accused leaving the hotel room, even if Mr Bhujun's testimony was submitted.

"Mr Theekoy for me was a truthful witness," he said.

Mr Theekoy, who was originally held in connection with the case, was released after agreeing to testify against his colleagues, Avinash Treebhoowoon, 29, and 41-year-old Sandip Mooneea.

Defence lawyer Sanjeev Teeluckdharry said not questioning Mr Bhujun was a "blunder" by the prosecution.

The programme also examines the reputation of the MCIT police unit in charge of the case which has been accused in the past of exacting confessions through torture and the history of deaths in police custody in the country.

One of the defendants in the case, Mr Treebhoowoon, claimed he confessed to Michaela's killing after he was tortured by police.

He and his co-accused Mr Moneea were both found not guilty of the murder.

Human Rights lawyer and former Attorney General and Ambassador for Mauritius, Jean Claude Bibi said that concerns have been raised for a long time.

"Even the human rights commission, way back in 2002, and again in 2004, complained that about 80 per cent, 80 per cent of cases within our criminal justice system, are based on confessions so therefore our MCIT has no tradition of real investigation, they are expert at extracting confessions under torture," he said.

"That is the simple and horrible truth that Mauritians are not proud of, we are ashamed of it."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Aisling Lowry in Fermanagh wrote (813 days ago):
I watched this programme last night in complete disgust. The state prosecutor is a complete ass - he made no attempt at all to secure a conviction. Does he really expect anyone to believe that he didnt know of police brutality ? It seems the police in Mauritius dont know anything whatsoever about crime scene investigation - they didnt even seem to do the basics. I believe the Harte and Mc Areavey families should be suing them too. God help them - they have been through so much and it doesnt look like there will ever be justice for Michaela. I would never again consider Mauritius as a holiday destination.
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