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Friday 24 January 2020

Editor guilty on honeymooner photos

A Mauritian newspaper editor who published graphic photographs of the body of murdered Irish honeymooner Michaela McAreavey has been found guilty of outraging public and religious morality.

A judge at Mauritius's Intermediate Court said the actions of Imraan Hosany were a "violation of human dignity" carried out "with a view to cater to morbid curiosity".

Magistrate Wendy Rangan said the publication of the police scenes-of-crime shots in the Mauritian Sunday Times were not justified by any public interest, as had been argued by his defence, and were instead motivated by "sensationalism and profit". The paper is not linked to the British and Irish publication of the same name.

Mrs McAreavey, the only daughter of Tyrone gaelic football manager Mickey Harte, was murdered in her hotel room on the holiday island in January 2011.

The pictures, taken for investigative purposes by a police photographer, showed the body of the Co Tyrone teacher lying in the room at the luxury Legends resort where she was strangled. The police insist they do not know how Hosany obtained the images.

They were published last July in the wake of the acquittal of two former hotel workers who had been accused in the Supreme Court (Assizes) of the 27-year-old's murder. Hosany is expected to be sentenced later this week.

In a written reserved judgment, Ms Rangan said: "The photographs were published in the newspaper three days after the Assizes case concerning the murder of MM Harte was over: the accused, director of the newspaper, would have been aware of the hype that those photographs were going to cause.

"I find that all this shows the intention of the accused and that his decision to publish the photographs was deliberate and not for the purpose of information, but with a view to cater to morbid curiosity. Therefore, I cannot but find that he was clearly motivated by sensationalism and profit.

The judge added: "The publication of the photographs cannot be and is not justified by any public interest. They were, and are, in violation of human dignity, and therefore an outrage against good morals.

"For all the reasons given above, I find that the prosecution has proved the case against the accused beyond reasonable doubt. I accordingly find the accused guilty as charged."

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