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Three face court over honeymoon murder

Three men will appear in court today in connection with the murder of Michaela McAreavey, daughter of Tyrone GAA boss Mickey Harte, police in Mauritius said.

The suspects, who are all employees of the luxury hotel where the 27-year-old newlywed was staying, are expected to face provisional charges of murder.

Mrs McAreavey was on honeymoon in the island paradise when she was found strangled in her room in the Legends Hotel complex.

Supt Yoosoof Soopun, who is leading the murder investigation, said: "The inquiries are progressing and three people have been arrested. We believe we have substantial evidence to connect them to the case.

"They will be brought to court today where provisional charges of murder will be brought against them. They will then be remanded in custody for a week and appear again once we have completed the investigation."

Mr Soopun said the three men were Legends Hotel employees and were believed to be inside the teacher's hotel room when she returned alone.

"We presume they were inside and burgling the room when the lady returned and were surprised and attacked her," he added.

The suspects, who are aged between 28 and 30, are expected to appear at Mapou District Court in northern Mauritius this morning, a spokesman for the Mauritius Police Force said.

Six people had been questioned in connection with the killing.

Last night the teacher's heartbroken father Mr Harte spoke of his devastation over the death of his "beautiful" daughter.

"This is the worst nightmare that anyone can imagine. If you think things can be bad, then you go beyond that because that is where we are," he said.

Mr Harte said his family had been left shattered.

The newlyweds were married less than two weeks ago near to the Harte family home on the outskirts of Ballygawley, Co Tyrone.

Outside the house last night Mr Harte stood with two of his three sons, Matthew and Michael, and said: "This is too horrible to contemplate. We are just all devastated. It is the worst of the worst and our hearts are broken."

His other son Mark is expected to arrive in Mauritius today with a brother of Michaela's husband, John McAreavey, who is a Down senior Gaelic footballer.

Earlier yesterday a police officer in Mauritius said the young Irish language teacher had tried to save herself after it appears she found intruders in her room.

"The victim fought for her life. There was a struggle in the room," he said.

A post-mortem examination revealed that she had been strangled.

She was found dead in the hotel room by her husband, who is not being treated as a suspect, after she had left him in the restaurant of their four-star hotel 45 minutes earlier to fetch biscuits for her tea.

Her father said: "We just loved our Michaela. She was such a good girl. Every father says that about their daughter, but I can say that without a shadow of doubt.

"She was a gem and we will always remember her.

"What a day she had on her wedding day. She was just radiant, a beautiful girl, and I just love her to bits. So does her whole family. We are so devastated.

"The McAreavey family are so special to us too. There is a special bond. John is a special lad. You have to be special if you're going to be Michaela's husband.

"John is out in Mauritius. He is isolated out there. It has been an awful time. Our hearts go out to him and I would ask everyone to please respect his privacy."

Meanwhile, an official from the Irish Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, has arrived on the island to assist Mr McAreavey.

The Irish Ambassador in South Africa, Brendan McMahon, will travel there today to lend his support.

The hotel is in the centre of the fishing village of Grand Gaube, not far from Grand Bay in the north-eastern corner of the island. The couple booked in on Saturday and were due to leave on Sunday.

Mr McAreavey spoke with a government minister in Mauritius and asked him to relay a simple message home: "I love my wife."

© Press Association