DPP will decide whether to reopen inquiry

Fri, Jul 13, 2012, 01:00

REACTION TO VERDICT:MICHAELA McAREAVEY’S husband John, accompanied by his father Brendan, sister Claire and brother-in-law Mark Harte, walked out of court immediately after the not guilty verdicts were read out for the two men on trial for her murder.

There were chaotic scenes outside the colonial-era courthouse in Port Louis where friends and family of the two acquitted men cheered and celebrated.

“I feel great,” said Sandip Moneea (42), the former floor supervisor at Legends Hotel, minutes after he had been formally released following his acquittal after 18 months in detention.

“I’m very happy to be back with my family again. Justice has won. I have a lot to do, but I don’t know where to start. I’m a free man.”

Mr Moneea wept as he hugged his barrister, Rama Valayden, after the verdict was delivered. “For me, it was Rama Valayden who got me out of this,” he said.

Mr Moneea’s elderly mother, Gomwattee, who had attended the trial every day for the past eight weeks, said: “I’m very happy. Today my son is going home after 1½ years. I’m very happy, and I thank God.”

Outside court, Avinash Treebhoowoon, who was also found not guilty, said he was overjoyed and expressed sympathy for the McAreavey and Harte families.

“I’m so sad about this lady,” he said, “but I did not kill this lady.”

As they emerged from the courthouse into a chaotic scrum of journalists and supporters, Mr Valayden and Sanjeev Teeluckdharry, the barrister who represented Mr Treebhoowoon, were carried aloft.

Mr Valayden said he was pleased with the outcome, but said the police should have been able to find the real killers.

Asked if he had any message for the late Ms McAreavey’s family, Mr Valayden said: “My message to the McAreavey family is, don’t despair . . . I can promise to you and to the Irish nation that I, Rama Valayden, with my friend Sanjeev, we will continue our efforts to find the real guilty persons.”

Leaving the courthouse, Insp Ranjit Singh Jokhoo, one of the lead detectives on the case, said police would re-open inquiries if instructed to do so by the Direction of Public Prosecutions.

“If there is any need to reopen a further inquiry, the police would do that,” he said.

“It’s the DPP who assumes responsibilities for all prosecutions. If he says there is a need for further inquiries, then the police will do that.”

Asked about his reaction to the verdict, Insp Jokhoo said: “If our court of law decides that there is not enough evidence to convict somebody, then I don’t believe that as police officers we have to comment on that.

“If we live in a country where the rule of law prevails, we must accept when they [the courts] give a verdict.”