Tuesday 16 January 2018

Tearful Michaela murder suspect says he was stripped and beaten

Cormac McQuinn in Mauritius

ONE of the two men accused of murdering Michaela McAreavey broke down in the witness box yesterday as he described his alleged torture at the hands of police during interrogation.

Avinash Treebhoowoon (31), a former cleaner at Legends Hotel where Michaela was brutally killed, burst into tears as he claimed that he was subjected to beatings by Mauritian police.

He has claimed that he only confessed to the botched hotel robbery after he was tortured.

Giving evidence in his own defence at the Supreme Court in Port Louis yesterday, he claimed he shouted out for his mother as officers beat him as he lay naked and handcuffed on a table.

A confession signed by Mr Treebhoowoon three days after Michaela's death states that his co-accused Sandip Moneea, a former room supervisor at the hotel, strangled the tragic bride.

He has since insisted the admission was extracted by violent means.

Dressed in a baggy white shirt, grey trousers and Louis Vuitton-branded belt, Mr Treebhoowoon wiped tears from his cheeks with a tissue after he told the court how he was beaten on the soles of his feet and threatened with a gun. He gave his evidence in French Creole.

Mr Treebhoowoon was arrested by police at Legends Hotel the day after Michaela was killed and he claims that the alleged abuse began almost immediately.

He was questioned on the premises, and he confirmed that he had cleaned the McAreaveys' room but denied any involvement in Michaela's death.

He said that on the way to the police station chief inspector Luciano Gerard of the Major Crime Investigation Team (MCIT) told him "why are you looking at me? You are the one who killed the woman".

"I said 'that's not true, I don't even know her name'," Mr Treebhoowoon said.

He added that when they reached Piton police station he was slapped twice on the cheek and started crying.

"Mr Gerard asked me why am I crying and I told him I had never been beaten in my life even by my parents. When I told him that he took a Coke bottle and he hit me three times on my head," he said.

Handcuffed

Mr Treebhoowoon said he was taken to MCIT headquarters in Port Louis and told to strip and lie on a table where he was handcuffed.

"I climbed up, I was nude. One officer held my hands, another held my feet. Another took a pvc pipe and hit me on the soles of my fee."

Later he said that Assistant Commissioner Yusef Soopun -- at the time the head of the MCIT -- arrived and swore at him asking, "Will you talk or not?"

It was at this point in his testimony yesterday that the defendant started to cry.

Mr Treebhoowoon continued: "He (Mr Soopun) said 'See if you will not talk' -- he put his leg up and showed me his revolver -- 'You will die with this today'."

Mr Treebhoowoon was still in tears when proceedings finished.

He is to return to the witness box today.

Irish Independent

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