'I am sad for the girl who died, but my son is innocent'
THE families of two men charged in connection with the murder of Michaela Harte offered their sympathies to her husband and family yesterday.
But they insisted that the men were innocent of the charges against them.
And a lawyer for one of the accused has said that any statement admitting to the crime was given "under coercion".
Speaking publicly for the first time yesterday, Manisha Theekoy (23) -- whose husband Raj has been accused of conspiracy to murder -- said she felt for Michaela's family.
"I have sympathy for the family of the girl," she said from her village home.
Separately, the mother of one of the murder accused -- Abinash Treebhoowoon -- said she felt pain for the Harte and McAreavey families as Michaela reminds her of her own daughter.
"I am sad for the girl that has died," said a tearful Mala Treebhoowoon.
"She is like my own daughter, she reminds me of her."
She was accompanied by her daughter-in-law, Reshma, who added that they had been thinking of the Irish families.
Hotel employees Abinash Treebhoowoon (29), of Plaines des Roches; and Sandip Moneea (41) of Petit Raffray, were charged on Wednesday with the murder of Ms Harte.
They were both in the hotel room and caused Michaela's death, police maintain.
Mr Theekoy (33), of The Cottages, was charged at the same court sitting with conspiracy to murder. He allegedly passed by the room and heard Michaela scream and saw two men leave in a suspicious manner. Investigating officers said he did not admit to what he had seen.
Mr Treebhoowoon and Mr Theekoy are said by police to have given formal statements confirming their part in the crime -- but Mr Moneea has not made any such admission and has yet to be interrogated.
However, the family of the men who have given admissions are adamant the men are innocent.
"He's a very good husband and father," Manisha Theekoy told the Irish Independent.
"He's innocent, he did not do anything, he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The 33-year-old room attendant had been working at Legends Hotel since last September and had previously worked at a nearby hotel for five years.
"I am not angry at the police because they are just doing their job, but I would like to say that my husband is innocent," she added.
Meanwhile, a lawyer for Mr Treebhoowoon, Sanjeer Teeluckdharry, said his client has "nothing to do with the charge".
He was speaking outside the police headquarters in the capital Port Louis.
"Whatever he has said, he has said under coercion," he told the Irish Independent.
"We will be challenging all statements given in absence (of legal representation)."
He attended the police station as Mr Treebhoowoon's wife gave a statement to the police.
Reshma Treebhoowoon had travelled to the station with her parents-in-law and a number of other family members.
The couple had moved into a new home just last week. They had previously been living with her parents.
"He has been beaten a lot, he has not been able to hear properly since," she said after giving the statement.
"I know he is innocent. But it is in God's hands now, only he knows what will happen."