Torture used for Michaela confessions, say wives
Published 20/06/2011 | 05:00
THE wives of the two men accused of murdering Michaela Harte have claimed the police tortured their husbands until they confessed.
Avinash Treebhowon (30) and Sandip Moneea (41) face a pre-trial hearing at Mapou district court on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius this morning.
The two men are accused of murdering the 27-year-old at her hotel room in the luxury Legends hotel while she was on honeymoon with her husband, John McAreavey, on January 10.
On the eve of the sitting, government worker Rekha Moneea (39) insisted that her husband was beaten into confession by Mauritian police.
And the 21-year-old wife of Mr Moneea's co-accused, Avinash Treebhowon, claimed police tortured her husband who still has difficulty hearing and walking after he was forced to confess.
However, Detective Inspector Ranjit Jokhoo, who is heading up the murder probe, said there was "other evidence" against the men which would be brought before the court today.
"We are not relying only on confessions," he said.
The families of Michaela Harte and John McAreavey did not travel to the island for the pre-trial. They are, however, being kept up-to-date on developments.
Rekha Moneea, who married Sandip the month before his arrest, prays for her husband at a shrine inside her parents' home in Petit Julie every day.
"I pray for Michaela every day, but my husband is an innocent man. I am asking Michaela's father, give me justice, the police are not doing their work correctly. There is political pressure.
"My husband was in charge of the section where Michaela's body was found. He was not even there when it happened, there is no evidence -- only allegations. From the beginning, he has said 'Je suis innocent'.
"I pray to Michaela, I tell her I need her papa to help, to come and see me, to listen to me."
The Moneeas' wedding gifts were still unopened yesterday in Petit Julie. Mrs Moneea showed references from the Legends hotel manager Brice Lunot praising her husband, a floor supervisor, in the months before the incident, for his professionalism.
"He is not a thief. We both have good jobs, I am an educated woman. I want people to ask questions. My husband was not there when it happened. Where is the evidence?"
In a village nearby, Reshma Treebhowon (21), who lives with her parents, claimed her husband, Avinash, was "beaten with a stick with wet clothes".
She said his head was forced under water and he still has difficulty hearing in one ear because of the force used.
Avinash turned 30 in Beau-Bassin prison last month, while Reshma continues to wait for him to come home.
"Every day I wait here and think he will come home," she said before conveying a direct message to GAA boss Mickey Harte -- Michaela's father -- who is now known throughout the small island.
"Please tell him I am so sorry for Michaela, she is beautiful, but my husband is innocent," she added.
A magistrate will today hear evidence against the two accused to determine if they should be sent forward for trial in the highest court in Mauritius where murder carries up to 60 years in prison. The pre-trial is a preliminary inquiry during which a magistrate makes findings. These are sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions who has the final say on whether the men are sent forward for trial for murder, or a lesser charge -- or released.
The full trial is expected to take place later this summer.