Date to be set for trial of Michaela murder suspects
Published 17/12/2011 | 05:00
THE case against two men accused of murdering honeymooner Michaela Harte was lodged with the Supreme Court in Mauritius yesterday.
Prosecutors have been working round the clock to have the case against hotel workers Avinash Treebhowon and Sandip Moneea ready before the first anniversary of the killing.
It's now up to the Assizes -- the highest court in Mauritius -- to set a trial date for the accused men, who have been in prison for the past 11 months.
The only daughter of Tyrone GAA boss Mickey Harte was found dead in a luxury suite at the five-star Legends Hotel on the paradise island on January 10. She was on honeymoon after her wedding to her childhood sweetheart John McAreavey on December 30 last year.
Mr Moneea has always insisted on his innocence -- and he never confessed to the murder -- however, Mr Treebhowon made a confession which his defence claims was made as a result of police brutality. These allegations have been dismissed by the Major Crimes Investigation Team (MCIT) who stated the two men had always been treated fairly while in custody.
Last month, Mauritian police quizzed a third suspect -- sacked Legends security worker Dassen Narayanen about the murder. Mr Narayanen has been accused of conspiring to commit a theft at the popular tourist resort on January 10, but he is on bail. The charge relates to the allegation that he made a dummy card for room 1025 at Legends.
Detectives with the MCIT in Mauritius quizzed Mr Narayanen over a report which found his DNA on the wardrobe door handle in the bathroom area where Ms Harte was murdered. His fingerprints were also found on a magnetic key card.
No DNA matching suspects Mr Moneea and Mr Treebhowon were found from crime scene lifts.
Mr Narayanen, who no longer works at the Legends Hotel, has already admitted to being inside the bedroom of the hotel on the day of the murder after he heard Mr McAreavey calling for help. However, he was not supposed to have been in the bathroom area when he answered Mr McAreavey's call for help as Ms Harte's body had already been removed from the bath and she was lying on the bedroom floor.
A fourth suspect, Raj Theekoy, had a charge dropped against him in relation to the murder when he turned state witness. He had initially been accused of conspiracy to murder but is now expected to take the stand as a star witness. He has already confessed to hearing Ms Harte screaming but not running to help her.
A preliminary inquiry found there was enough evidence against Mr Moneea and Mr Treebhowon to send them forward for trial.