Saturday 16 December 2017

'Michaela's family will see justice done'

Prosecutor hits out at 'delaying tactics' in pre-trial

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

THE state prosecutor in Mauritius last night insisted that Michaela Harte's family would get justice for her brutal murder.

In an interview with the Irish Independent, the principal state counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) office in Mauritius, Mehdi Choony, also made a plea to the Irish people to: "Trust us, we know what we are doing."

And he launched a scathing attack on defence lawyers representing the two men charged with murdering Michaela on her honeymoon.

Mr Choony accused the legal team defending the accused of being "intellectually dishonest" and claimed they had spent the past week using "delaying tactics".

Stalled

Sandip Moneea (41) and Avinash Treebhowon (30) are accused of murdering Michaela while she was on honeymoon with her husband, GAA star John McAreavey, in the luxury Legends Hotel on January 10.

The preliminary inquiry into the murder has been stalled for the past week as defence lawyers have sought to have the magistrate, Sheila Bonomally, removed from hearing the case.

They also want to cross-examine Mr McAreavey.

Mr Choony, who studied law at UCD in Dublin and attended boarding school in Co Sligo, has refused to comment on the case until now.

Mr Choony said he felt compelled to speak because of the behaviour of other parties in the case who have been leaking information to the media.

He said people who had concerns should "wait and see" what is put before the preliminary inquiry before deciding on guilt or innocence.

The prosecutor hit out at the leaks emerging from the case.

"I cannot comment on this but what is serious is there has been leakage and it has to stop," he said.

Mr Choony refused to respond directly to claims that the Mauritian police had discredited themselves by saying there was CCTV and DNA evidence on the accused men and later admitting there was, in fact, none being used as part of the case.

But he insisted justice would be done and urged people to let justice take its course.

"The Irish people should wait and see what evidence is put before the court. That's the best way of doing it; let us start. Defence counsel will have the chance to cross-examine the witnesses," he added.

"Det Insp Jokhoo is a witness and will be called and the defence counsel will have a chance to cross-examine him after; why can't they wait?

"They don't even want the case to start, you've seen that. Why? They say that the magistrate is not impartial? I have no idea why. The committal proceedings are not a trial; nobody is going to be found guilty here."

He also said he watched the RTE documentary on Michaela Harte -- like many people in Mauritius -- and he said the 27-year-old woman's murder was a "tragedy".

"People talk about human rights, the rights of the accused parties. Nobody speaks of the victim's rights. That poor girl got married a few days before coming to Mauritius," he said.

Irish Independent

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