herald

Sunday 19 August 2018

Police probe rushed to avoid backlash claims defence lawyer

THE Michaela McAreavey murder investigation in Mauritius is being "hurried" to soothe the international press, a lawyer has warned.

Barrister Ravi Rutnah told the Herald that the rights of his client, murder suspect Avinash Treebhoowoon, have been infringed.

Michaela (27), the daughter of All-Ireland winning Tyrone boss Mickey Harte, was found dead by her husband John McAreavey in their room at the Legends Hotel in the Mauritian fishing village of Grand Gaube.

Michaela and John's room remains the same as they left it on the day the new bride was so brutally killed.

Even the sign saying 'Please make up the room' still hangs in place.

However, white fingerprints are clearly visible on the door of the room where the newlyweds had stayed and police have cordoned off room 1025.

It is hoped the fingerprints will help bring her killers to justice.

Mr Rutnah said: "What is happening according to me is, because of this international media pressure and some politicians in Mauritius getting involved directly into the case, the police are feeling pressure to resolve matters as quickly as possible.

"We always say that justice delayed is justice denied, but in this case it could be justice hurried justice buried."

Mr Rutnah and lawyer Sanjeev Teeluckdharry, who are both looking after Mr Treebhoowoon's case, were denied access to their client this weekend when they hoped to discuss with him the progression of the case.

The suspect was moved to Moka's detention centre in Mauritius to wait his next hearing this Wednesday.

"To set the record straight, Sanjeev Teeluckdharry went to the MCIT [Major Crime Investigation Team] on Friday afternoon, and informed senior officers of the MCIT that we would be seeing our client over the course of the weekend," he said.

"There is a diary book entry to this effect to prove that such notice was given to them, but despite the notice, for reason unknown to us, we were still denied access during the weekend."

Harrowing new details have emerged of Michaela's final moments from the confession of Legends hotel attendant Treebhoowoon (29).

Detective Inspector Ranjit Jokhoo, who is leading the investigation, said that, according to Treebhoowoon's admission, she was crying after he pushed her to the ground.

He added that when Michaela came into the room, floor supervisor Sandip Mooneea (41) was near the bathroom, out of her line of view, while Treebhoowoon was searching the purse. In his statement, Treebhoowoon claimed that the bride said "What are you doing?" and continued shouting at him.

Treebhoowoon says he then pushed her to the ground and, as she tried to get up, Michaela was caught by Mooneea from behind.

Mauritian police chief Dhun Iswur Rampersad told reporters that Ravi Rutnah was present at the time of Treebhoowoon's confession. However, the lawyer told the Herald that this was not the case.

"I very much doubt the integrity of the confession itself because of the manner in which the confession was obtained in my absence," Mr Rutnah said.

"I am making a complaint that I, as counsel, was threatened by officers of the MCIT when I was advising my client, that they threatened they could arrest me for obstruction to justice," he added.

However, police in charge of the probe have dismissed the allegations, saying Mr Treebhoowoon's lawyer was present when the confession was made.

hnews@herald.ie

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