Sunday 18 March 2018

I'll be back, jokes lawyer as he quits defence team

Ravi Rutnah: was barrister
for Avinash Treebhoowoon
Ravi Rutnah: was barrister for Avinash Treebhoowoon

Cormac McQuinn in Mauritius

THE trial of the men accused of killing Michaela McAreavey descended into new levels of farce yesterday as one of the defence lawyers sensationally quit before joking: "I will be back in Arnold Schwarzenegger style."

Ravi Rutnah, a lawyer for one of the accused, quit the trial after a police witness, Chief Inspector Luciano Gerard, made allegations about his conduct as Avinash Treebhoowoon's lawyer.

"There have been accusatory attacks on my professional integrity and as a direct response I have decided to withdraw from representing Avinash Treebhoowoon." said Mr Rutnah.

"With his lordship's leave I wish to withdraw, but I will be back in Arnold Schwarzenegger style," he added, referring to a line from the 'Terminator' films.

The wisecrack was the latest in a series of off-colour remarks by the flamboyant barrister which have been met with howls of laughter from law students who have assembled to watch the case.

On Tuesday, Michaela's sister-in-law, Claire McAreavey, lost patience with laughing onlookers and gave a stern warning to "be quiet please".

Chief Inspector Gerard claimed he called Mr Rutnah two days after Michaela's death to inform him the police were going to seek a statement from Mr Treebhoowoon.

He said that Mr Rutnah had told him he was busy and would meet his client with the police the following day.

He said that the police called the lawyer again that evening to say that Mr Treebhoowoon would be making a statement in light of claims by another hotel worker, Raj Theekoy, that implicated Mr Rutnah's client in Michaela's death.

Mr Gerard said that after some time Mr Rutnah arrived at police offices and said that Mr Treebhoowoon was too tired to make the statement that evening.

And he claimed that the lawyer then enjoyed a "cordial" takeaway meal of "fried rice and coca cola" with officers while his client was in custody.

He also said Mr Rutnah consented to a crime-scene reconstruction with Mr Treebhoowoon taking place in his absence and was present when the accused confessed to involvement in Michaela's death.

Mr Treebhoowoon's defence team has previously claimed that their client made the confession after he was subjected to police brutality.

It is understood the remaining defence counsel, Sanjeev Teeluckdharry, will now attempt to call Mr Rutnah himself as a witness.

The trial descended into chaos and Judge Prithviraj Fecknah adjourned proceedings early.

Irish Independent

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