Michaela accused says police 'beat' him

Published Thursday, 24 May 2012
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One of the murder accused in the Michaela McAreavey case says police beat him to obtain a confession, a court has heard.

Michaela accused says police 'beat' him
Avinash Treebhoowoon, 30, arrives at the Supreme Court in Port Louis. (© PA)

Avinash Treebhoowoon, 30, confessed to police about his involvement in strangling the daughter of Tyrone Gaelic football boss Mickey Harte, but now insists he was forced to sign the statement.

He alleges that police tried to suffocate him with a towel, held his head in a bucket of water and beat him while he was interrogated.

His lawyer Sanjeev Teeluckdharry repeated a complaint his client made to court authorities in the days after the death in January last year.

Reading his client's statement on Thursday, Mr Teeluckdharry said: "I was made to suffocate on a towel and I was assaulted again on a table."

He continued saying that Treebhoowoon received further beatings in a police van and that on one occasion officers filled a bucket of water.

"While I was leaving court I went to Port Louis and officers asked me to sit down," he said.

"It was about 7pm. I was placed on the table. I was undressed and a pail of water was filled. I was on a chair, I was gripped by the neck and placed into that pail of water.

"On the following day two officers took me in a van and I was beaten up in the van."

Treebhoowoon claimed each time he was brought to a doctor for a check up.

The accused also alleged he was beaten in the face and on the heels.

Treebhoowoon, wearing a grey short sleeved T-shirt, stared intently at his lawyer as he read out his complaint.

Mrs McAreavey's brother Mark Harte and sister-in-law Claire McAreavey were in court as the claims of police brutality were levelled.

Her widower John was not in attendance as he is due to be called as a prosecution witness later in the trial.

It was later revealed to the jury that a witness who claims he saw Treebhoowoon and his co-accused Sandip Moneea leave the room where the honeymooner was strangled was himself charged in connection with Michaela's death.

Raj Theekoy, a fellow employee at Legends, and two other men were accused with conspiracy to murder, but all three had the charges against them dropped.

Treebhoowoon and co-accused Sandip Moneea, 42, deny murdering the 27-year-old teacher on her honeymoon at the Legends Hotel, since renamed the Lux Hotel.

The case against hotel room attendant Treebhoowoon, from Plaine des Roches, and floor supervisor Moneea, from Petit Raffray, began on Tuesday and is expected to last some time.

The court also heard on Thursday that Treebhoowoon was not wearing an anti-contamination suit when he was taken to the crime scene for a reconstruction three days after the murder.

Police officers who attended the exercise in room 1025 of the Legends Hotel were also not in protective clothing, a police photographer told the island's Supreme Court.

Witness Pc Harris Jeewooth was reprimanded twice by Judge Prithviraj Fecknah who told him to stop being evasive and to make an effort after he answered a number of questions by saying that he didn't remember.

UTV's Alison Fleming, who is reporting from Mauritius, explained that the judge told the witness: "I will ask you to be truthful - I will not take answers of 'I can't say' or 'I can't remember'. Don't give me clichéd answers."

The police photographer was being questioned by senior counsel for one of the accused at the time. Pc Jeewooth admitted that neither he nor the others present when photos were being taken of room 1025 in the Legends resort had been wearing protective shoes.

Almost 50 witnesses are listed to give evidence in one the most high-profile criminal cases held in Mauritius.

Judge Fecknah said on Thursday that a "lengthy trial" was ahead.

© UTV News
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