'Elite' police unit has been humiliated by this farce
A SENIOR officer of the supposedly elite Major Crime Investigation Team (MCIT) in Mauritius was quoted as saying the following in the days after the arrest of the men accused of killing Michaela McAreavey:
• "We are sure we have made no mistakes."
• "We have the right people."
• "Of course we are not going to try these people without a proper investigation."
• ""All the evidence will be subject to close scrutiny by a court."
• "I can tell you by my own experience we have not made a mistake."
These words, uttered by Inspector Ranjit Jokhoo should embarrass him and the entire Mauritian Police Force now that the case against both men has been all but laughed out of court. The farcical trial of Avinash Treebhoowoon and Sandip Moneea has shown that the police made a litany of mistakes at all stages.
The jury unanimously decided that they arrested the wrong men. And the only thing that Mr Jokhoo was correct about was that the evidence would undergo "close scrutiny".
It was and the jury wasn't convinced by the disputed confession of Mr Treebhoowoon -- who said the MCIT brutally tortured him to get it -- or the testimony of hotel worker Raj Theekoy, which was riddled with contradictions.
The complete lack of any DNA or fingerprint evidence was perhaps the most damning indictment of the police inquiry.
Mr Jokhoo -- who once boasted of a near 100pc conviction rate in murder cases -- was more realistic about the chances of bringing Michaela's killer to justice following the verdict, admitting that the police had no new suspects and no new leads.
The Mauritian Police Force has been accused of rushing the investigation into Michaela's death for political reasons, namely the importance of the tourism industry, and the desperate need to catch a culprit or culprits to protect the so-called paradise island's image.
Because of the bungled investigation and the fact that Michaela's killer is still on the loose, the island's reputation has been damaged and the police face enormous pressure from all quarters.
Already there are accusations that heads have started to roll with Assistant Commissioner Yusef Soopun being accused of retiring after his actions in the case were scrutinised in court.
Mr Treebhoowoon's lawyer Sanjeev Teeluckdharry, incredulous at the prosecution suggestion that the police should be congratulated for "solving" Michaela's murder in "record time", said: "Maybe I should congratulate Mr Soopun for having taken the decision after appearing in court to take early retirement."
The police have denied that the retirement of the most senior officer in the Michaela investigation was premature, instead insisting that he had reached his proper retirement age.
Either way, his record, and that of the "elite" unit he used to command, the MCIT, has been severely tarnished.
There have been calls for the unit, which has an unsavoury reputation on the island going back several years, to be disbanded.
Yesterday I contacted the police to ask them if they would be re-opening the investigation into Michaela's death.
A spokesman refused to comment other than to say "we accept the verdict" and that officers were "studying the case".
Attempts were also made to contact the Mauritian attorney general Yatin Varma, equivalent to our Justice Minister, to ask the same question.
He did not return my calls.
The failure of the police to bring Michaela's killer to justice, to provide any answers for her grieving family, should embarrass the island's establishment into cleaning up the force.
Unfortunately it may be too late to find justice for Michaela.