Two of the men charged with the murder of Michael Harte have confessed to their involvement in the crime.
Mauritian police commission Dhun Iswar Rampersad spoke at a press briefing at the police headquarters in Port Louis yesterday. He reported that floor manager Sandip Mooneea (41) and cleaner Raj Theekoy (33) both confessed their involvement in the murder of Michaela Harte.
He said “It looks like he [Treebhoowoon] went in the room a couple of minutes before the victim arrived. The accused was there to commit larceny…From what I understand the couple left a purse with money and jewelry on a table for a couple of days. It seems that this attracted the attension of some staff working there.”
Mr Theekoy saw Mr Treebhoowoon coming out of the newlywed’s room in an agitated stage.
Commissioner Rampersad continued “Treebhoowoon told him not to say anything about it. Now the investigators are trying to match what he is saying with the timing of the events.”
Mr Treebhoowoon and Mr Mooneea were both in possession of electronic keys. The commissioner said “We now have sufficient evidence against the accused to bring a case of murder against them.”
Mayessen Nagapachetty, a local journalist with News Now, speaking to RTE, said Avinash Treebhoowoon (28) had admitted that he strangled Ms Harte.
Mr Nagapachetty said “He went into the room to rob, and then sometime later he fell face to face with the woman, which is Michaela Harte... They had a fight together... and then in the struggle he pushed the woman there, and carried the woman into the bathtub, and strangled her to death."
Although he had confessed to the crime on Wednesday, Mr Treebhoowoon did not mention his confession but insisted he had been mistreated by the Mauritian police when he was arrested on Tuesday.
Speaking to RTE a Mauritian barrister said it is quite common for defendants to retract their confessions. They may claim that their had been coerced into making them.
The three men who appeared in court Mr Treebhoowoon and Raj Theekoy (33) along with their supervisor Sandip Moneea (41) all denied the charges against them in court.
As the police continue to work on the investigation with help form Michaela’s husband, John McAreavey, preparations are being made to bring Michaela’s body home to County Tyrone.
Donald Payen, a senior official with Air Mauritius said “Everything has been done to enable the body to be transported (back to Ireland) via Britain this evening (January 13)."
It is expected that Michaela’s remains will arrive to her home outside Ballygawley, County Tyrone by lunchtime on Friday. Her coffin was released to her brother, husband and other relatives yesterday. The flew to London and on to Belfast.
Michaela widower, John McAreavey, will return to Mauritius to give evidence at the trial of the three men who have been charged. Commissioner Rampersad said “We have asked him to be kind enough to make himself available. It will also be his duty to return to Mauritius for the trial to help secure prosecution.”
The Harte family are now finalizing the details of Michaela’s funeral. The funeral mass will most likely take place on Monday at the same Church in Ballygawley where she was married to John McAreavey on December 30th. Her wake will be held over the weekend.
According to Father Gerard McAleer, a family friend who both baptized and married Michaela, she will be buried in a small cemetery, St. Malachy’s Church, Ballymacilroy, close to her familial home.
The GAA board of County Tryone has confirmed that the football team will not play their first round match against Fermanagh in the Dr McKenna Cup. The match will be played at Brewster Park in Enniskillen at 2pm on Sunday.
Thousands of people have come to sign books of condolence in public buildings around County Tyrone, many wearing the county colors.