Sunday 21 January 2018

Judge pleads with absent-minded policeman 'to remember' arrest

Constable Seevathian after giving evidence at the Supreme Court in Port Louis, Mauritius on day five of the trial.
Constable Seevathian after giving evidence at the Supreme Court in Port Louis, Mauritius on day five of the trial.
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

A POLICE witness at the trial of the two men accused of murdering honeymooner Michaela McAreavey was heavily criticised by the judge for his repeated memory loss on crucial details of the police investigation into her death.

PC Hans Rowin Seevathian, an officer in the Major Crime Investigation Team (MCIT), told the court on at least 30 occasions that he couldn't remember important details while he was being cross-examined by the defence team.

He claimed memory loss at least once every two minutes during his testimony -- which lasted just over an hour -- despite having been deeply involved in the early days of the police investigation.

This involvement included taking part in arresting one of the suspects, Avinash Treebhoowoon, a fact that had to be dragged out of him by defence lawyer Sanjeev Teeluckdharry.

And he refused point blank to respond to a question from Mr Teeluckdharry about the police force's treatment of Mr Treebhoowoon in the hours after his arrest. Instead, PC Seevathian defiantly folded his arms and leant back from the witness box microphone.

At this point an exasperated Judge Prithviraj Fecknah said "Let the record show the witness has remained silent for this question."

The judge became increasingly frustrated by the lack of co-operation from the witness and repeatedly asked him during proceedings to "please try to remember".

Defence lawyer Rama Valayden later lambasted the island's police force, saying that as a former attorney general on the island he is "embarrassed" by the investigation.

Questioned by Mr Teeluckdharry, PC Seevathian claimed his role in the investigation was limited to dropping off and collecting evidence at the forensics lab before later admitting he had arrested Mr Treebhoowoon at Legends Hotel on the morning of January 11, 2011.

He then claimed not to remember the time of the arrest.

Judge Fecknah told him sternly: "Look, officer, this is important. You arrested the accused.

"It is important you make an effort to remember what happened because these answers are important for this trial."

Manhandled

After checking the MCIT diary in front of him, the witness conceded that Mr Treebhoowoon was arrested at 10:40am.

He was then asked what had occurred between the arrest at 10:40 and 15:45, when Mr Treebhoowoon was brought to Piton police station. At this point PC Seevathian clammed up.

Last week the court heard how Mr Treebhoowoon has claimed he was beaten and tortured after his arrest, allegations denied by the Mauritian police.

PC Seevathian was asked the names of MCIT officers who, as Mr Teeluckdharry put it, "manhandled" his client in the hours after his arrest, and again the policeman said he couldn't remember.

The judge insisted that Mr Teeluckdharry used the term "handled", due to the "bad connotations" of the word "manhandled".

But still Mr Seevathian's memory failed him repeatedly when the questions were rephrased.

Michaela's father-in-law Brendan McAreavey and his daughter Claire watched the exchanges from the public gallery.

Her widower John is not allowed to attend court until he gives evidence as a prosecution witness, which could happen as early as the end of this week.

Irish Independent

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