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Defendant in Michaela trial wants a new judge

LAWYERS for one of the men accused of murdering Michaela McAreavey are seeking to have another judge assigned to the case as they do not believe the accused men will get a fair trial.

Five hotel employees appeared in Mapou District Court yesterday at a remand hearing.

The 27-year-old newly wed teacher, daughter of GAA boss Mickey Harte, was strangled in her honeymoon suite at the luxury Legends Hotel in Mauritius on January 10.

A lawyer for Abinash Treebhoowoon (29) told the court yesterday of his planned motion. However, he was not permitted to formally lodge it because the court's digital equipment was broken.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Treebhoowoon's barrister, Ravi Rutnah, said the legal team would seek the removal of magistrate Sheila Bonamally at the next hearing tomorrow.

He said the lawyers were seeking the change because although the judge had ordered an inquiry into allegations of police brutality, his client had been beaten again after being medically examined by an independent examiner.

"He was beaten again to the extent that he confessed (to murder)," claimed Mr Rutnah.

"The police commissioner said he confessed in the presence of his barrister but this was not true. I was threatened with prosecution and told that I was obstructing police justice.

"My client believes he won't get a fair trial in front of this magistrate."

Mr Rutnah said he did not have much hope that the judge would excuse herself from the case tomorrow. He added that if she failed to do so, he would appeal to the Supreme Court.

Mr Treebhoowoon appeared in court yesterday, alongside Sandip Moneea (41), Dassen Narainen (33), Seenarain Mungoo (39) and Raj Theekoy (33).

Room supervisor Sandip Moneea -- who police believe strangled Mrs McAreavey -- appeared alone as his counsel, Navin Bhoyrul, was not in attendance.


Suspects Narainen, Mungoo, and Theekoy were represented by their counsels, Miss Poonum Sookun, Mohammud Zahid Nazurally and Navin Ramchurn respectively.

None of the suspects spoke during the short hearing.

Police prosecutor, chief inspector Chamroo told the court that police continued to object to the release of all suspects on bail. All of them were remanded in custody until their next court appearance, which is due to take place tomorrow.

A number of the suspects' family members were in the court for the hearing.

Afterwards Dassen Narainen's mother fainted after her son had left the court. She was revived by family members.

It was the second time that she had collapsed after seeing her son in handcuffs and surrounded by the police.

Irish Independent