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Police deny brutality claims at Michaela McAreavey murder trial

Chief inspector leading the investigation into the 27-year-old’s death in Mauritius last year was cross-examined on claims of abuse made by one of the accused.

Defendant Sandip Moneea at the Supreme Court in Port Louis today.
Defendant Sandip Moneea at the Supreme Court in Port Louis today.
Image: Paul Faith/PA Wire

THE CHIEF INSPECTOR who led the investigation into the murder of Michaela McAreavey today strongly denied allegations of police brutality made by one of the two defendants, Avinash Treebhoowoon.

Hotel workers Treebhoowoon, 30, and Sandip Moneea, 42, deny murdering McAreavey.

CI Luciano Gerard of the Major Crime Investigation Team for said that when officers of the MCIT went to Legends hotel to investigate the death, the site was already cordoned off by other police units and several persons were interviewed.

Gerard said he was aware that Michaela’s husband John McAreavey was treated as suspect and interviewed later by the Central Investigation Department at the police station of Piton. He acknowledged that he was aware that his travel documents were taken by the police but claims he did not know when these were returned.

He also said he did know when and where the two accused – Avinash Treebhoowoon and Sandeep Moneea – and witness Vikash (Raj) Teekoye were arrested.

The police chief denied accusations that his men bullied Treebhoowoon in the carpark of the
hotel and forced him into a 4X4 before threatening him. He also dismissed as “unfounded” words attributed to an officer who allegedly urged the suspect to talk or else he would “undergo a shock treatment he cannot imagine”.

In a statement read out in court, Treebhoowoon claims he was slapped by several officers at a police station and that one hit him with an empty plastic bottle on the neck, while another struck him on the soles of his feet with a black plastic pipe.

Gerard denied these accusations and said such practices were not conducted by the MCIT.

The Court then heard that the suspect was transferred to Point aux Canoniers police station in the north where, though informed, his relatives could not meet him. The next day he was brought to a magistrate in Mapou court where he complained of torture and police brutality. The magistrate ordered him to be sent to the SSR North hospital where he was examined by a medical officer and received treatment.

Earlier today, defence counsel presented a motion to assign four new witnesses. These are a representative of the Bar Council, the Registrar of the Supreme Court and lawyers Jean-Claude Bibi and Ravi Rutnah – the defence lawyer who resigned from the case yesterday and offered to testify for the defence.

The trial continues tomorrow.

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About the author:

Ajai Daby in Mauritius

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