Wednesday 13 December 2017

Man cleared of Michaela murder is claiming €1m 'for stress'

Couple: John McAreavey and wife Michaela McAreavey on their wedding day
Couple: John McAreavey and wife Michaela McAreavey on their wedding day
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

A hotel worker cleared of murdering Michaela McAreavey will begin his bid to win €1m in compensation next month.

Six years after the honeymooner was found dead in her Mauritius hotel suite by her husband, a man acquitted of the killing is claiming damages for "trauma, humiliation and stress" as a result of his alleged treatment by police and investigators.

Avinash Treebhoowoon was one of two hotel employees acquitted in the high-profile murder case.

He and another hotel employee, Sandip Moneea, had been charged with murdering Michaela.

Acquitted in murder case: Avinash Treebhoowoon
Acquitted in murder case: Avinash Treebhoowoon

However, they were both acquitted following the trial in 2012.

Mr Treebhoowoon spent 18 months in custody before being found not guilty in Mauritius's Criminal Court.

But his claim for damages has angered Michaela's widower, John McAreavey. On Twitter he said Mr Treebhoowoon should be "more concerned about defending a potential civil suit rather than more of his lies".

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Mr Treebhoowoon's lawyer, Sanjeev Teeluckdharry, said Treebhoowoon felt "very sorry for whatever has happened" but "has nothing to do with the murder".

"He does not know anything about how the lady was killed."

He confirmed the first stage of the case will begin within weeks when the Mauritian government files its defence. He claimed Treebhoowoon's arrest was arbitrary, his detention illegal, and also alleges he was tortured and deprived of his rights.

"It was a big conspiracy involving high-ranking officers, and other authorities, just to make it look like an open-and-shut case.

"Instead of making a serious inquiry, and to look for the murderer, they tortured one of them to make a false confession. That's the basis of the claim. He is seeking about £1m (€1.1m) for the torture that he suffered in police cells, as well as the trauma he underwent.

"My client has a good case. It is very clear from the trial, through the answers we obtained, that the police have failed in making a proper inquiry. Who were the personnel that left the hotel compound earlier than usual? They have not analysed the CCTV cameras. Instead, they were in a hurry to find scapegoats."

He also alleged the police misled the public by claiming they had obtained DNA evidence and videos from CCTV cameras.

He maintained his client was mistreated while in custody, and that police forced him to make a false confession, having "brutalised" him.

Previously, he claimed that his wife suffered a miscarriage because of his arbitrary arrest while his family were "humiliated" by what happened to him.

Sunday Independent

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