Poignant courtroom birthday wishes for accused's loyal wife
AS SANDIP Moneea was led from the courtroom yesterday he reached out his cuffed wrists and briefly clasped his wife's hands.
A couple of words passed between the pair before officers escorted him to the waiting prison van.
Rekha Moneea told the Irish Independent afterwards that he had wished her a happy birthday.
Mrs Moneea married the former Legends Hotel floor supervisor just over a month before he was arrested and charged in connection with Michaela McAreavey's death.
She has always maintained that her husband was "101pc innocent".
And she said that instead of celebrating her 38th birthday with him at their home, he was on trial for a crime he had nothing to do with.
She said: "Today, you know, it's my birthday, which I have to spend here in the court. It's not easy for me or for my husband. He is crying every day."
Mr Moneea (42), along with Avinash Treebhoowoon, has pleaded not guilty to Michaela's murder.
Every day since the beginning of the trial Mrs Moneea has travelled to Port Louis from her home in Petit Raffray, just four kilometres from the hotel where Michaela was killed.
A civil servant and devout Hindu, she sits in the court taking notes.
The pair were married for just 37 days before Mr Moneea was arrested and charged with killing another newlywed -- Michaela -- in January 2011.
Mrs Moneea says her life has been "ruined" and blames "the authorities who have separated me from my husband".
Protesting his innocence, she said: "My husband is a good person. My husband has a good job, a good salary. We had just constructed our house to live in. Why would he do this?"
Mrs Moneea says that each day she lights a candle for Michaela in the Catholic cathedral: "At Port Louis cathedral I am lighting a candle in her name. I am praying Jesus Christ, mother Mary.
"She was a woman like me. She died innocently."