Saturday 20 January 2018

Police chief says hotel's 'dirty games' led to John being treated as suspect

Cormac McQuinn in Mauritius

THE actions of management at Legends Hotel led to John McAreavey being viewed as a suspect in the hours after his wife's violent death, the most senior investigating officer has claimed.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Yusef Soopun said that if the hotel had given police vital records of magnetic key card entries to the McAreaveys' suite the day she died, then John wouldn't have been taken away by police and "treated as a suspect".

Mr Soopun called the failure to provide the records a "dirty game", and claimed executives at the luxury hotel failed to co-operate with his inquiry and were more interested in protecting the reputation of the hotel.

John McAreavey last week told the island's Supreme Court of a five-hour ordeal where he was handcuffed and left on his own at the police station. He said that he was forced to deny he had been arguing with wife Michaela and said one heartless officer said to him: "What are you crying about? You're young, you'll get another wife."

Elite

Taking to the witness box yesterday, the first day that there was no representative of Michaela's family in court, Mr Soopun described how as head of the elite Major Crime Investigation Team (MCIT), he had led the investigation.

He immediately launched into an attack on the management of Legends Hotel, where accused men Avinash Treebhoowoon and Sandip Moneea had been working.

He was asked about a room card reading carried out by hotel security on the door of room 1025 where Michaela was found dead and said his team was not provided with the results despite "our persistent requests".

He claimed: "I just want to stress that hotel management, particularly the chief security officer Mr (Mohammad) Imrit, has played a dirty game with the police. Had he given us that information earlier, there's no doubt the poor Mr John McAreavey would not have been taken to Piton police station and treated as a suspect."

He said it was later that night that the hotel finally provided records showing that "a magnetic card -- GMK supervisor two" -- had been used to access the room two minutes before Michaela on the afternoon of January 10, 2011.

"Then it was clear, my lord, that Mr John McAreavey must be disregarded as a suspect."

Mr Soopun continued: "At 23.00 I went to Piton police station where to my great astonishment I found that Mr John McAreavey was handcuffed, he was crying and he was completely broken.

"I immediately gave orders to the police officers present there to have his handcuffs removed and to let him go."

He said that Mr Imrit had been "lying" when he told the court that German guests at the hotel had wanted to make a statement to police but were turned away because they didn't speak English.

Under cross-examination he said: "I want to stress that hotel management were much more concerned to protect the reputation of the hotel rather than to discover who killed the victim."

Asked by defence lawyer Rama Valayden if his team had tested two key cards found in room 1025 to see if they worked in the door, he said: "Unfortunately I have to tell the court that hotel management did not co-operate with the police but gave all their information to the defence."

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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