McAreavey family would not want innocent men jailed, say defence lawyers

The family of honeymooner Michaela McAreavey and the people of Ireland would not want innocent men convicted of her murder, defence lawyers have told jurors.

The family of honeymooner Michaela McAreavey and the people of Ireland would not want innocent men convicted of her murder, defence lawyers have told jurors.

Barristers for the two Mauritius hotel workers accused of the crime also called for a new police investigation into the Co Tyrone teacher's death at the island's Legends hotel, insisting the real culprit was still at large.

Counsel for Sandip Moneea and Avinash Treebhoowoon urged the jury to find their clients not guilty as they delivered separate closing addresses to their trial at the Supreme Court in Port Louis.

At the close, proceedings were adjourned to Thursday, when the jury is expected to retire to consider its verdict after receiving judicial directions.

Former Mauritian attorney general Rama Valayden, representing Moneea, said convicting the men would inflict a wound on Mrs McAreavey's soul.

"Don't cause another injury to Michaela wherever she is," he said.

The lawyer, in an address lasting almost three-and-a-half hours, said a fresh police probe would allow her family finally to get the truth.

"Come back and send the right signal to our nation," he told the nine jury members.

"Send the right signal to our Irish brothers and sisters - in Mauritius we love you and we want justice to be done and for justice to be done we want a new inquiry."

Treebhoowoon (aged 32) from Plaine de Roches, and Moneea (aged 43) from Petit Raffray, deny murdering the daughter of Tyrone Gaelic football boss Mickey Harte in her deluxe room in Legends.

Both defendants worked at the exclusive beachside resort at the time she was found strangled last January.

As the two accused watched on from the dock, Mr Valayden said he had great respect for Ireland.

"The Irish nation is a great nation," he said.

"I love that nation for their struggle against British colonialism. All those who know me always know I have been a supporter of Sinn Féin."

Lambasting the original police investigation, he asked jurors if justice had really been rendered to Mrs McAreavey.

"Do you think one person in Ireland, with its history of miscarriages of justice, would say - any person you get, it's okay?

"Do you think there's one person in Ireland will say - it doesn't matter who you get, we want a head."

Treebhoowoon's counsel Sanjeev Teeluckdharry, who was the first to present his closing submissions, also called for a new investigation.

"Let me tell you ladies and gentlemen there's no pride in tacking the skins of innocents on the wall," he said, accusing the police of embarking on a rushed "wild hunt" to find scapegoats.

"It's my humble opinion that this whole inquiry needs to be reopened," he said.

The lawyer added: "So we can know the truth.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the image of our country internationally cannot be mended by condemning two innocent men to hell for 60 years whilst the real culprit is still at large."

The prosecution claims the defendants attacked the 27-year-old newlywed when she interrupted them stealing in her room.

Treebhoowoon signed a confession statement three days after Mrs McAreavey died but has since insisted the admission was extracted by police brutality.

The teacher's widower John McAreavey and other family members were not present in court as the defence delivered their closing remarks on what was the 32nd day of proceedings.

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