Michaela accused's 'rights denied'01/06/2012 - 08:45:33
Police breached the constitutional rights of a hotel worker accused of murdering Michaela McAreavey in Mauritius by interrogating him without a lawyer present, his trial was told today.
Avinash Treebhoowoon first admitted the crime during police interview when his counsel was absent, the Supreme Court in Port Louis heard.
Chief Inspector Luciano Gerard of the major crime investigation team (MCIT) confirmed his barrister – Ravi Rutnah – was not present but insisted he informed the suspect of his right to legal representation.
Treebhoowoon’s current defence counsel Sanjeev Teeluckdharry accused the officer of overriding his client’s rights.
“You chose to breach the accused’s constitutional, fundamental human right to counsel as provided by article 5 of our constitution,” he said.
The officer responded: “My lord, before I interviewed him, I informed him of his constitutional rights.”
Treebhoowoon told police he was involved in the murder of Mrs McAreavey on January 12 last year – two days after she was found dead.
He made a full confession statement the next day but Mr Teeluckdharry claimed lawyers were not allowed a private consultation with the suspect during this period.
Treebhoowoon, 31, claims the confession was beaten out of him.
Along with co-accused Sandip Moneea, 42, he denies murdering the daughter of Tyrone gaelic football boss Mickey Harte in her hotel room in the island’s luxury Legends Hotel.
The defendants both worked at the hotel at the time of the murder.
The prosecution claims they strangled her when she caught them red-handed stealing from her room, having momentarily left her husband John at the pool to fetch biscuits for her tea.
The Co Tyrone teacher’s father-in-law Brendan McAreavey and sister-in-law Claire McAreavey were in court to hear the exchanges.
Her widower John remains elsewhere on the island, unable to attend proceedings until he is called as a prosecution witness.