Monday 19 February 2018

Thirty witnesses expected at Michaela Harte murder trial

Deborah McAleese

THIRTY witnesses are to give evidence next week at the trial of two men accused of killing Michaela Harte in Mauritius.

The 27-year-old daughter of Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte was murdered in January last year at the Legends Hotel where she was on honeymoon with her husband John McAreavey.

Mr McAreavey has also been listed as one of the witnesses to give evidence in the case, which is due to begin next Tuesday at the Supreme Court in the island's capital of Port Louis.

Avinash Treebhowon (29) and Sandip Mooneea (41), both employees at the Legends Hotel, have been charged with murder. They have consistently denied the charge.

A room cleaner at the hotel, Raj Theekoy, has also been named as one of the witnesses to give evidence.

During a previous court hearing Mr Theekoy said he heard a woman "shouting in pain" in room 1025 of the hotel, minutes before Michaela's body was discovered there.

"When I heard the woman shouting like that, I got scared because it was the first time I heard somebody shouting. I panicked."

He also admitted during the court hearing last year that he saw both murder accused Mr Mooneea and Mr Treebhowon near Ms Harte's suite minutes after he heard shouting from the same room.

Other hotel employees, including the chief security officer, the director of the five star hotel and a bellboy, are all to be called as witnesses alongside a number of police officers, forensic scientists and medical experts.

The trial is expected to last at least two weeks.

Michaela died after she went to the couple's room to fetch some biscuits. She is thought to have unwittingly stumbled upon a burglary and was attacked.

When she did not return her husband went to look for her and found her lifeless body in the bath.

Suspicions that staff were involved were raised as there had been other thefts in the hotel with no obvious signs that any of the rooms had been broken into.

After questioning the two men were arrested and charged with her murder.

Michaela's father Mickey Harte has decided not to attend the trial.

Her husband John will be accompanied by other family members.

Irish Independent

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