Friday 6 December 2019

Michaela McAreavey's husband slams 'kangaroo court' that acquitted two men of her murder

John McAreavey with tragic Michaela
John McAreavey with tragic Michaela

Aine McMahon

The family of Michaela McAreavey have criticised the "kangaroo court" that acquitted two men accused of her murder in Mauritius.

The daughter of Co Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte was strangled in the bath of her hotel room shortly after lunch with her husband John while on their honeymoon in 2011.

Two local hotel workers were acquitted of her murder following a high-profile trial in Mauritius in 2012.

Mr McAreavey, who has since remarried, said his quest for justice will not end until those responsible have been jailed.

John McAreavey Photo: David Conachy
John McAreavey Photo: David Conachy

He told Newstalk FM on Friday the family have spent nearly nine years working with the Mauritian authorities to get justice for Michaela.

"Our approach was there is no point shouting and roaring here and getting their backs up," he said.

"We needed these guys on side and we felt we should support them and give them an opportunity to right the wrongs that happened in 2012.

"We felt that was our best chance at actually delivering justice. That was the main objective - but as time went on, that has just sort of faded away."

READ MORE: John McAreavey on how he rebuilt his life and why hunt for killers of Michaela still drives him

Mr McAreavey said a potential change in Mauritian law could mean the men acquitted face a retrial if compelling evidence emerges.

He said: "The evidence is really, really strong and that is why we are so certain that the men who were acquitted are responsible."

He said the high-profile nature of the trial turned it into "a big circus act".

Michaela and her father Micky Harte
Michaela and her father Micky Harte

He added: "The truth had been lost in that and we wanted to present the evidence.

"At the end of the day, they got the right men. A guy confessed. A guy saw the two perpetrators coming out of the room."

Mr McAreavey said the family have made a podcast called Murder in Mauritius about the case to shine a light on elements that have never been revealed and what the trial was like.

"The evidence is just so strong - and that is why we really wanted to talk about the depth of the evidence in the podcast."

He said the podcast will give listeners an idea of what is was like to attend the "kangaroo court" every day.

READ MORE: 'She supports me so much in this' - John McAreavey on new wife Tara and why he returned to Mauritius for Michaela

He said: "It was full to the public gallery and the defence for these two men used this as a platform to be the greatest entertainers. They would play up to the gallery and the gallery would respond and everybody was sitting laughing.

"All of this time we were sitting there and we have two men sitting over to our left who had brutally killed Michaela - and this was just our life now. And you have a judge sitting up there that is allowing it all to happen."

But he said he was still confident the jury would convict the two men.

"I had faith in the jury because everything else that was going on didn't really matter," he said.

"I looked at them every day and I felt that they came across as balanced people and I felt that the strength of the evidence was just so strong that it didn't matter what else anybody said.

"The evidence is there and these people have listened to the evidence. For them to return a unanimous verdict of not guilty, it sunk my heart.

"It sunk our hearts and, at that point, I felt stupid. I felt stupid because I was like, 'How did I ever think that we were going to get justice here?'"

READ MORE: 'Michaela is never coming back but the least we can do is strive for justice' - John McAreavey speaks of his grief

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