The two men accused of murdering newlywed Michaela McAreavey (nee Harte) have been acquitted by a Mauritius court.
Avinash Treebhoowoon (32) and Sandip Moneea (43), former employees of the Legends Resort, were found not guilty of the murder of Michaela McAreavey, the daughter of Tyrone GAA coach Mickey Harte.
The unanimous verdict was delivered after two hours of deliberation following a trial that lasted almost two months.
The 27-year-old school teacher was found strangled in her hotel room at the luxury Legends resort in January 2011.
Members of the McAreavey and Harte family walked straight out of the court in silence following the verdict. They later expressed their disappointment in the courts decision in a joint statement.
"After waiting 18 months in search of justice for Michaela and following the endurance of seven harrowing weeks of this trial, there are no words which can describe the sense of devastation and desolation now felt by both families," the statement said.
The murder trial at the Supreme Court in Mauritius was one of the longest trials in Mauritian legal history. It was originally expected to last 14 days.
The Guardian reports both of the accused broke down in tears at the verdict while their relatives cheered in the dock.
Prosecutors said the Tyrone woman had been murdered by the two hotel workers after she disturbed a burglary in her hotel suite.
Outside the court Treebhoowoon told reporters he was overjoyed while expressing sympathy for Michaela’s family.
"I'm so sad about this lady," he said. "But I did not kill this lady."
Moneea said "I am so happy to be back with my family.”
"These past 18 months have been so hard."
In the days following the murder the two men confessed to the killing. However they pled not guilty during the trial and claimed they were coerced into confessing after being tortured by police.
Log in with your social accounts:
Or, log in with your IrishCentral account:
Don't have an account yet? Register now !
Join IrishCentral with your social accounts:
Already have an account ? Log in
Or, sign up for an IrishCentral account below:
Make sure we gathered the correct information from you
You already have an account on IrishCentral! Please confirm you're the owner.
Our new policy requires our users to save a first and last name. Please update your account: