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Tuesday 23 January 2018

Man acquitted of killing Michaela McAreavey seeks damages

Avinash Treebhoowoon with his wife Reshma Picture: Steve Humphreys
Avinash Treebhoowoon with his wife Reshma Picture: Steve Humphreys

Alan O'Keeffe

A man found not guilty of the murder of Michaela McAreavey in Mauritius is seeking damages of almost €2m for his treatment by police and the state.

Avinash Treebhoowoon was one of the two hotel employees who were acquitted of the murder of the Irishwoman found strangled in Mauritius in 2011.

He is seeking 75 million Mauritian rupees damages (€1.9m) in a legal action in the Supreme Court on the Indian Ocean island for "trauma, humiliation and stress" as a result of his treatment by police and investigators.

A report in the 'L'Express' newspaper on the island stated he is suing the State and six police officers of different ranks for the way he was treated during the murder investigation.

Michaela (27), daughter of All-Ireland winning Tyrone Gaelic football manager Mickey Harte, was on her honeymoon with her groom John McAreavey when she was murdered. Her body was found in the bath of the couple's hotel room by her husband.

Mr Treebhoowoon is claiming in court documents in the French language that his arrest on the day after her body was found was "not based on a reasonable suspicion and was totally unfair".

He is also alleging the police misled the public by claiming they had obtained DNA evidence and videos from CCTV cameras.

He also alleges he was tortured during his 18 months in custody and claimed he was threatened with a gun while in custody.

He is further alleging that police forced him to make a false confession and that they "brutalised" him.

He stated that his wife suffered a miscarriage because of his " arbitrary arrest".

He stated his family was "very humiliated" by what had happened to him.

He said he still has not been able to find a job even though he was cleared of the murder four years ago.

Following the marathon trial in 2012, Mr Treebhoowoon and co-accused Sandip Moneea were declared not guilty by a unanimous verdict of the nine member jury.

The court heard that the Irish bride and groom had their lunch at the luxury hotel on January 10, 2011.

After lunch, Michaela went to her hotel room to get biscuits to have with her tea.

When she failed to return from their hotel room, her husband went to the room and found her dead in the bath with the water running.

Investigators told the court it appeared she had been wrestled to the ground and strangled and then her body was placed in the bath.

A moving statement released by the McAreavey and Harte families after the verdict stated they had endured seven harrowing weeks of the trial and that they had no words to describe "the sense of devastation and desolation now felt by both families".

Michaela, an Irish language teacher, had been the Ulster Rose at the 2004 Rose of Tralee festival.

Irish Independent

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