Mauritius murder trial halted for day over legal issues

 

THE TRIAL of two men accused of murdering Michaela McAreavey in Mauritius was adjourned for discussions between legal teams yesterday.

Judge Prithviraj Fecknah adjourned proceedings within minutes when a lawyer for one of the defendants said he needed time to address outstanding legal issues.

Hotel cleaners Avinash Treebhoowoon (31) and Sandip Moneea (42), former employees of Legends Hotel, are accused of murdering Ms McAreavey (27) while she on was honeymoon with her husband John in January last year.

The prosecution claims Ms McAreavey, daughter of Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte, was strangled after she returned to her room and found the accused men stealing. Both men deny the charges.

When proceedings began after a 40-minute delay yesterday morning, Rama Valayden, representing Mr Moneea, asked the judge for an adjournment. The defence barrister was due to resume his cross-examination of Yoosoof Soopun, an assistant commissioner of the Mauritian police.

“I know I am in the middle of cross-examination but I would ask the court to be indulgent so that we can have some time to discuss some matters,” Mr Valayden said.

Mehdi Manrakhan, for the prosecution, had no objection to rising for the day, noting there were “exceptional” circumstances and some important matters needed to be addressed. The judge agreed to the request. “If what’s being done is in the interests of justice, I think we can have one day to sort things out,” he told the criminal court.

John McAreavey was in court for the brief exchange, along with his father Brendan, sister Claire and brother-in-law Mark Harte.

The cross-examination of Mr Soopun is expected to be completed this morning, leaving just one prosecution witness to give evidence.