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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Michaela murder trial: Extra security to protect widower John McAreavey in Mauritius

John McAreavey listens as his sister Claire reads a statement outside the court flanked by (far left) Michaela's brother
Mark and (right) barrister Dick Sui Wa
John McAreavey listens as his sister Claire reads a statement outside the court flanked by (far left) Michaela's brother Mark and (right) barrister Dick Sui Wa
John McAreavey, husband of Michaela McAreavey arrives with his father Brendan (right) at the Supreme Court in Port Louis, Mauritius. Photo: PA
Avinash Treebhoowoon is led into court.
Sandip Moneea is shielded from the crowd.
Mr Treebhoowoon’s wife Resham at court.

David Young

EXTRA security measures have been implemented at the trial of two men accused of murdering the daughter of Tyrone gaelic football manager Mickey Harte in Mauritius.

The high-profile Michaela McAreavey case at the Mauritius Supreme Court witnessed chaotic scenes as it began yesterday with her widower John mobbed by crowds outside.

The two hotel workers accused of strangling his wife were also buffeted as they were led through throngs of people.

In apparent response in the unruly scenes, security barriers were in place today as handcuffed Avinash Treebhoowoon and floor supervisor Sandip Moneea were escorted into court five.

Mrs McAreavey, 27, was found dead in the bathtub of her and her husband's luxury hotel room in the Indian Ocean island paradise last January - just two weeks after their wedding.

The teacher had momentarily left her sweetheart at the pool of the five star Legends Hotel to fetch some biscuits for a cup of tea.

The case against hotel room attendant Treebhoowoon, 30, and floor supervisor Moneea, 42, is being heard in the Supreme Court in the capital city Port Louis.

Treebhoowoon, from Plaine des Roches, and Moneea, from Petit Raffray, deny premeditated murder.

The trial in the old French colonial court building is one the most high-profile criminal cases held on the island.

A jury of nine - six men and three women - is hearing the case.

A lone police truck transported the defendants from the high-security La Bastille prison in the nearby town of Phoenix - a more low key entrance than yesterday's speeding convoy of vehicles.

Though most Mauritians speak a variant of French as their first tongue, court proceedings are being heard in English.

From Ballygawley, Co Tyrone, Mrs McAreavey was the only daughter of Harte, the GAA boss who has steered his native county to three All Ireland championships.

Mr McAreavey, an accountant and talented Gaelic footballer from Co Down, has returned to Mauritius with members of his and the Harte family. Mickey Harte is not attending.

Judge Mr Justice Prithviraj Fecknah is presiding over the trial, which is expected to last two to three weeks. Almost 50 witnesses are listed to give evidence.

The Legends Hotel, which has since been renamed the Lux Hotel, is in the fishing village of Grand Gaube, close to Mauritius' Grand Bay.

Mrs McAreavey taught religious education and the Irish language at St Patrick's Academy in Dungannon, Co Tyrone.

Her Requiem Mass was held close to her family home at St Malachy's chapel in Ballymacilroy - the same church she had married in a fortnight before she was killed.

Then-Irish president Mary McAleese was among dignitaries at a funeral attended by more than 3,000 people, as the newlywed was buried in her wedding dress.

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