Friday 15 December 2017

Pictures of dead Michaela published 'for sensationalism'

Mayessen Nagapa-Chetty Mauritius

THE publication of pictures of the dead body of Michaela McAreavey "was done for sensationalism", a court in Mauritius has been told.

Imran Hosany, editor of the 'Sunday Times' in Mauritius, is charged with outrage against public and religious morality.

The newspaper, which is not connected with the British and Irish publications of the same name, printed photographs of Michaela's dead body on its front page.

The editor was arrested on July 18, 2012, after the weekly newspaper carried the pictures, provoking outrage in Mauritius and Ireland.

The previous week two hotel workers, Sandip Moneea and Avinash Treebhoowoon, had been acquitted of her murder.

The final verdict in the case will be delivered on May 29, after both the prosecution and the defence produced their submissions at the Mauritian Intermediary Court yesterday.

Prosecution counsel Medhi Manrakhan told the court several facts remained undisputed in the case – including the murder of Michaela McAreavey in January 2011, and that the photos had been taken by police constable Harris Jeewooth during the police investigation of the crime scene.

He said the photos were meant to be used by the police, the prosecution and the defence only.

"It was certainly not intended to land in the hands of the accused," said Mr Manrakhan.

During the previous hearing, Mr Jeewooth identified the photographs and confirmed that they were identical to those he had taken at the scene of the crime at the former Legends Hotel in Grand Gaube.

During a police search at the office of Mr Hosany, a USB storage key was found containing the same pictures.

"The right to freedom of expression does have its limit. It does not give journalists the permission to publish what they like," Mr Manrakhan said.

He also argued that the photos published in 'Sunday Times' have undermined the dignity of the deceased, especially since the victim was wearing a bikini.

Akil Bissessur, defence counsel, told the court that "publishing photographs of dead bodies cannot be considered as outrageous. There is no evidence of complaints recorded as to the outrageous aspects of the said pictures".

Mr Bissessur said that his client has no duty to reveal where he got the photographs.

"After the death of Mrs Michaela McAreavey, the trial received a lot of media attention and it was in the interest of the public that the pictures were published," he added.

Ms McAreavey (27), the daughter of Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte, was killed in her room at the Legends hotel in Mauritius in January 2011.

She had been on her honeymoon with her husband, the Down GAA player John McAreavey.

Irish Independent

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