Relatives maintain dignified silence amid peals of laughter

Mark Harte bowed and looked to the floor as another peal of laughter erupted at the trial of his sister’s alleged murderers.

Michaela McAreavey’s sister-in-law Claire just stared straight ahead.

Moments earlier they would have struggled to avoid catching glimpses of scenes of crime photos indiscreetly passed between lawyers sitting around them in court.

The trial experience in Mauritius’s criminal court must be becoming harder and harder to bear for the relatives of the Co Tyrone honeymooner.

Meanwhile, her widower John waits elsewhere, excluded from court until he is called as a prosecution witness.

His wait could be a long one. The trial of the two hotel workers accused of murdering his 27-year-old bride was scheduled to last two weeks but this seems unlikely.

Fifteen witnesses were timetabled to be called in the first two days of hearing evidence. The cross examination of the sixth of those will resume in the morning.

After another exhaustive questioning session — this time of a police map maker — the judge urged counsel to be respectful of the time.

He warned them to cut out “tedious” questions.

“We are in a trial that’s likely to be lengthy.”

But those in the public gallery certainly don’t appear to be growing weary of the exchanges.

One of the benches was literally rocking at one point, such were the chortles from those who seem to be there for the entertainment value.

Flourishes of speech by counsel are regularly greeted with raucous approval.

One lawyer promised to “rock and roll” on a line of questioning. Those in the gallery loved it, particularly the scores of law students there to see one of the biggest trials in the island’s recent history.

The police officers guarding the accused in court were even laughing.

And all the while, Claire and Mark sit in dignified silence.


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