A man accused of murdering honeymooner Michaela McAreavey in Mauritius has told a court he was making a telephone call at the time she died.
Testifying in his own defence, Sandip Moneea insisted he was on the phone to his sister at the time the prosecution contends the Co Tyrone teacher was strangled in her room at the luxury Legends Hotel last January.
Moneea, 42, said his sister had asked if he wanted to come to her house for dinner that night.
The defendant said he declined, as he was taking part in a religious fast.
“I do not eat non-veg on Monday,” he added.
“I was fasting for the god Shira.”
The accused, who is a Hindu, was questioned by his lawyer for around 20 minutes before cross-examination began.
Moneea and co-accused Avinash Treebhoowoon, 32, deny murdering the daughter of Tyrone football boss Mickey Harte.
Both men worked in the Legends hotel at the time of the murder. The prosecution claims they attacked her when she interrupted them stealing in her room, having momentarily left her husband John at a poolside restaurant.
Mr McAreavey and other family members watched the accused testify from the public gallery of the Supreme Court in Port Louis.
Treebhoowoon’s lawyer, Sanjeev Teeluckdharry put the prosecution version to Moneea.
“You and Mr Treebhoowoon struggled with a lady in room 1025, you strangled her, Mr Treebhoowoon held her legs,” he said.
He replied: “Totally false – I never did such a thing.”
Mr Teeluckdharry went on: “You and Mr Treebhoowoon killed a lady in room 1025?”
“No, false,” the defendant insisted.
“I never did such a thing.”