Friday 22 September 2017

Michaela's murderer is free and walking the streets, says lawyer

Cormac McQuinn in Mauritius

A LAWYER for one of the men accused of killing Michaela McAreavey has claimed that her "true murderer" is still free and that the country's reputation is at stake.

Rama Valayden, the island's former attorney general, yesterday opened his case in defence of Sandip Moneea -- a hotel worker accused of strangling the honeymooner.

He launched a blistering attack on the police investigation of her death, lambasting it as "amateurism".

He said they could have learned from TV detective show 'Columbo' and claimed: "The true murderer is still on the outside. The true murderer is walking on the streets. The true murderer can do what he likes."

And the lawyer also rubbished the testimony of the prosecution's "star witness", Raj Theekoy.

Mr Theekoy claims he saw Mr Moneea and his co-accused Avinash Treebhoowoon coming from the direction of the murder scene at the Legends Hotel shortly after hearing a woman scream.

But Mr Valayden said: "If there was a bank for lies, he would be a rich man."

He called Mr Theekoy a liar and warned the jury to beware of his evidence because he had been granted immunity from prosecution after more than two months in jail.

He asked: "Immunity for what? Immunity for hearing screaming inside a room?

"Beware of hearing your neighbours fighting, and turn up the radio if you do, or you might end up in jail for 77 days also."

Mr Valayden said that Mr Moneea had always maintained his innocence, adding he "does not want to get out on a technicality".

"When he walks down the street he wants people to look him in the eyes and know he was wrongly accused and spent so much time in jail," he said.

"He told me, 'I want people to know I am innocent'."

Mr Valayden saved most of his criticisms for the police -- quipping that MCIT didn't stand for the elite Major Crime Investigation Team but for "My Confession Is True".

The lawyer listed the lack of fingerprints and DNA evidence linking the two men to the crime and the failure to check if a key card reading from hotel room doors matched the real time.

He criticised police for poor protection of the crime scene and not interviewing hotel guests.

Culprit

He said that Michaela's "true murderer" was still free and that this would "poison the life of the McAreavey family because they will not know who the real culprit is.

"This case is not like other cases. It's not only the two accused on trial -- it is also the reputation of Mauritius.

"There must be proof beyond reasonable doubt that one or both of the accused carried out this despicable murder of a visitor to our island," he said.

He added if the jury had any doubt at all that his client killed Michaela they "must acquit".

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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