Former hotel worker acquitted of murder of Michaela McAreavey has been rearrested

Mauritian police confirmed Sandeep Mooneea had been taken in for questioning

A former hotel worker acquitted of the murder of Irish honeymooner Michaela McAreavey has been rearrested by detectives in Mauritius investigating the case, his lawyers have said.

Mauritian police confirmed Sandeep Mooneea had been taken in for questioning by officers examining the case of Mrs McAreavey.

Mooneea and another man were found not guilty of the murder after a high-profile trial on the holiday island in summer 2012.

Police have not confirmed what suspected offence Mooneea is being questioned over.

Neelkanth Dulloo, counsel for Mooneea, told the PA news agency his client had been arrested but he said he was unaware of the specific basis for the questioning.

Mr Dulloo and other lawyers representing Mooneea have also written to the island's commissioner of police raising concerns.

The lawyers said that Mooneea “has been arrested today April 19”.

They wrote: “I humbly beg you sir to refer the present matter to the honourable director of public prosecutions for advice.

“Section 19A does not give the police powers to arrest a person acquitted by the jury unless the hurdles of fresh and compelling evidence are met to the required standard.

“May I remind you that ‘compelling evidence’ means evidence which is (a) reliable; (b) substantial and (c) highly probative in the context of the issues in dispute at the trial.”

Investigation

A spokesman for the Mauritian police, who did not use the term arrest, said: "Investigation by police is progressing regarding the Michaela Harte McAreavy case. Mr Sandeep Mooneea has been brought in and is being interrogated."

Mrs McAreavey, 27, was strangled in her room at the Legends Hotel in Mauritius on January 10 2011.

The teacher, who had married husband John 10 days earlier, was attacked after she returned to her room alone and was disturbed a burglary.

No-one has been convicted of murdering the daughter of Gaelic football manager Mickey Harte.

Mooneea and his co-accused in the 2012 murder trial, Avinash Treebhoowoon, worked as cleaners in the hotel at the time of the killing.

The new development in the case comes weeks after another former hotel employee - ex-security guard Dassen Narayanen — was charged with theft in relation to the McAreaveys’ room.

Narayanen, 37, from Royal Road, Plaine des Papayes on the Indian Ocean island, was remanded in custody charged with conspiring with another hotel employee to steal a magnetic key card to the room occupied by Mrs McAreavey and her husband John to commit larceny.

He was been admitted to hospital several times during his detention for mental health issues and his lawyer has criticised the way he has been treated by police.

Campaign for justice

John McAreavey has pursued a long campaign for justice and in 2017 offered a two million Mauritian rupee (€50,000) reward for information leading to a successful conviction.

Narayanen's lawyer, Vikash Teeluckdharry, wrote to the prime minister of Mauritius, Pravind Jugnauth, on Tuesday, outlining ten specific concerns about his client's detention.

The letter, seen by the PA news agency, said: “I fervently call for your intervention in order to better protect the integrity of the criminal procedure in Mauritius, particularly the police procedures in the absence of the modern safeguards, which are available in more advanced countries such as Britain.”

Mr Teeluckdharry outlined further concerns about the handling of the overall investigation. He said he would be sending a copy of the letter to Northern Ireland's Justice Minister, Naomi Long.

Police in Mauritius have previously denied mistreating Narayanen in custody.

READ MORE