Lawyers clash at Michaela murder trial

Published Friday, 25 May 2012
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Questions about the private life of Michaela McAreavey and her husband provoke fierce clashes at her murder trial in Mauritius on Friday.

Lawyers clash at Michaela murder trial
The two accused arrive at court for the fourth day of the trial in Mauritius. (© PA)

Prosecutors in the trial of the two men accused of murdering the Co Tyrone woman on her honeymoon last year strongly objected when a defence lawyer repeatedly questioned a police officer about items in their hotel room - including a laptop, mobile phones and a sex guide.

The book was taken from the couple's room, which the defence says provides the crux of their case.

"There were strong objections from the prosecution about relevance - the defence said it was relevant to the crux of their case," UTV's Alison Fleming, who is reporting from Mauritius, explained.

A lawyer for Sandip Moneea also accused Sergeant Ramasawmy of not interviewing employees and guests at the resort including a German couple who, the barrister claimed, were not asked to make statements because they could not speak English.

The exchanges became heated after sergeant Ramasawmy told the court he gave the book to John McAreavey three days after his wife was killed, along with 12 other possessions from their room in the luxury hotel.

This morning's revelations were as uncomfortable to listen to as they were unexpected. There doesn't seem to be an awful lot of consideration given to the fact that there is a grieving family sitting in this court.

UTV's Alison Fleming

Principal state counsel Mehdi Manrakhan reacted angrily when Sanjeev Teeluckdharry, representing accused Avinash Treebhoowoon, asked the officer if the book contained material of a violent nature.

"I object in the strongest possible terms," Mr Manrakhan said.

"We are trying to unveil the truth," said the barrister after Mr Manrakhan's intervention.

Judge Mr Justice Prithviraj Fecknah upheld the objections of the prosecution, telling Mr Teeluckdharry that such questions should not be directed at the witness as he had already told the court he had not examined the book's contents.

As the lawyers clashed, the judge adjourned proceedings for a time.

"The judge reprimanded both defence and prosecution about the exchanges - throughout which Mark Harte, Michaela's brother, sat with his head down," Alison Fleming said.

Michaela's widower John is due to be called as a prosecution witness and was not allowed to attend Friday's proceedings, during which no one under 18 was allowed to be present.

Treebhoowoon, 30, and Moneea, 42, deny murdering the 27-year-old only daughter of Tyrone GAA boss Mickey Harte.

The fourth day of the trial - the most high-profile to ever be held on the island - ended early in the afternoon, with proceedings adjourned until Monday.

The jury of six men and three women are hearing the case in English, despite most Mauritians speaking French Creole as their first tongue, and almost 50 witnesses are listed to give evidence.

Proceedings had been expected to last two weeks, but the judge has now warned a "lengthy" trial is ahead.

© UTV News
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8 Comments
Eve in Belfast wrote (817 days ago):
If I find the insinuations and lack of dignity and privacy distressing and upsetting, goodness only knows what the Hart/McAreevey families are feeling. I am the mother of a daughter the same age as Michaela and my heart goes out to her parents and husband. I will be praying for them all, esp John as he endures this horrendous ordeal.
patrick in derry wrote (817 days ago):
Just would like to congratulate Alison Fleming on the dignified way she is reporting on this case. Whoever compiled this report has also done so in a sensitive manner. It is good to see there are some who avoid trash journalism.
Rob in North Down wrote (817 days ago):
It really is disgusting that this type of thing goes on, but this case is not unique. Go to any court in NI on any day and you will hear defence lawyers accuse rape victims of leading on their attackers, assault victims accused of being the aggressor etc. how defence lawyers sleep in their beds at night is beyond me. They don't have an ounce of morality in their bodies!!
Carla in Co Antrim wrote (817 days ago):
I think this is really awful, as if the family havnt been through enough, but to be trawling through the personal items John shared with his wife. i find this very upsetting and down right disrespectful to say the least! I hope justice will be done and soon, prolonging this trial can only be a truly agonising experience for both Harte and McAreavey families.
Lee in Tyrone wrote (817 days ago):
Absolutely dreadful....my heart goes out to the Harte and mcaeavey families who have to sit and listen to this farse of a case, I cannot believe the personal details that are being brought up....it is totally sick! God rest poor michaela, and be with her family at this dreadful time and give them strength!
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