Michaela police deny torturing accused

Published Monday, 11 June 2012
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Police in Mauritius have denied beating and using water torture on one of the men accused of murdering newlywed Michaela McAreavey, in order to get a confession out of him.

Michaela police deny torturing accused
Sandip Moneea denies involvement in the murder. (© PA)

As murder trial proceedings at the Supreme Court in the island's capital of Port Lewis entered a third week, Constable Jean Robert Manoovaloo was cross-examined by defence lawyers.

The officer denied torturing a confession out of 31-year-old Avinash Treebhoowoon from Plaine des Roches, who had previously signed a statement admitting the murder but now denies the charge.

Allegations of brutality were put to Constable Manoovaloo by defence lawyer Sanjeev Teeluckdharry.

"You and other officers were involved with torturing accused number one (Treebhoowoon), you placed a towel over his head and were hitting him," Mr Teeluckdharry said.

"Amongst officers who lay him naked on a table, you were the one who plunged his head in a pail of water officer. Accused number one was struggling to breathe."

Constable Manoovaloo rejected the claims as "completely false and malicious allegations from the accused".

The officer also denied threatening Treebhoowoon and his then-lawyer Ravi Rutnah, when he signed the confession statement on 13 January.

"This is false, my lord," Constable Manoovaloo said. "After the recording of the statement, counsel (Mr Rutnah) went away - he was happy."

The court also heard on Monday that 42-year-old co-accused Sandip Moneea, from Petit Raffray, told police he was the one to call the Legends Hotel's reception desk to ask for a doctor after Michaela was found strangled.

Moneea's police statements were read out in French Creole by Inspector Ranjitsingh Jokhoo.

He was heard to have told them: "I don't know anything in that murder case - I heard that the woman got killed, but I don't know who killed her."

In one interview with detectives days after the killing, Moneea was confronted by police with the claim that he had approached a security guard at the hotel - Dassen Naraynen - four days before the murder and asked him for a room card that would enable him to steal from guests.

"No, this is not true. I never spoke about this to Dassen," Moneea was heard to have said.

"He didn't give me a card."

In the wake of the murder, police discovered that an unauthorised, non-traceable "dummy" card had accessed the McAreaveys' room moments before Michaela is said to have returned.

Naraynen is currently facing a provisional charge of conspiracy to commit larceny in connection with the case in separate court proceedings.

Michaela's widower John McAreavey and his brother-in-law Mark Harte watched Monday's proceedings from the public gallery of the court.

Treebhoowoon and Moneea both deny the premeditated murder of 27-year-old Michaela McAreavey.

© UTV News
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