Monday 25 September 2017

'Star witness' in Michaela trial to take stand today

Raj Theekoy: outside court in Port Louis last week
Raj Theekoy: outside court in Port Louis last week

Cormac McQuinn In Mauritius

THE star witness in the trial of the two men accused of murdering tragic honeymooner Michaela McAreavey is to testify today in what will be another dramatic day of evidence in the Mauritian Supreme Court.

Prosecutors highlighted former hotel worker Raj Theekoy's claim to have seen Avinash Treebhoowoon and Sandip Moneea leaving Michaela's Legends Hotel room, shortly after hearing a woman screaming in pain, when they outlined their case in court.

Combined with Mr Treebhoowoon's confession, which he claims was extracted after beatings and torture by police, Mr Theekoy's evidence forms the cornerstone of prosecutor Mehdi Manrakhan's strategy to convict the two accused men.

Mr Theekoy was originally charged in connection to Michaela's murder because he did not come to her aide after hearing her screams.

He has been granted immunity in return for his testimony and can expect several hours, if not days, of cross-examination from defence layers Sanjeev Teeluckdharry and Rama Valayden.

On the opening day of the trial, Mr Manrakhan said Mr Treebhoowoon only confessed to involvement in Michaela's death after he was confronted by Mr Theekoy's statement.

He outlined how Mr Theekoy claimed he was going to meet Mr Treebhoowoon at the McAreaveys' room on the afternoon of Michaela's death and said: "When he got closer to the door of room 1025, he heard a female crying as if she was in pain."

He said Mr Theekoy was scared when he heard the screams and fled to another suite from where Mr Theekoy "would see both accused coming out of room 1025".

He said that Mr Theekoy challenged the two defendants after he had learnt of Michaela's death later that day and Mr Moneea allegedly threatened him saying: "If you open your mouth, I'll get you involved in the case."

Statement

On Tuesday, the court heard how Mr Theekoy's expected testimony has changed from the initial statement he gave to police when he was first arrested the day after Michaela's death.

In the statement, made to the island's Major Crime Investigation Team (MCIT), he made no claim to have seen both accused near the tragic honeymooner's hotel room nor does he mention hearing a woman screaming.

Instead he said, "I did not kill the lady" and "I don't know how she was killed", adding: "I don't know anything about the lady."

Irish Independent

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