One of the two murder suspects accused of killing Michaela Harte claims police officers tried to suffocate him with a towel while extracting his confession, a Mauritus court has heard.
Avinash Treebhoowoon (30) has alledged that investigators held his head in a bucket of water during the interrogation that lead to his confession.
The only daughter of GAA manager Mickey Harte, 27-year-old Michaela was strangled to death in her five star Legends hotel room while on honeymoon in January 2011.
Two hotel workers, Treebhoowoon and Sandip Moneea, were arrested and later confessed to her killing. The two defendants pleaded innocent on Tuesday, when the trial began in Mauritius.
Treebhoowoon now claims he was coerced into confessing and signing the police statement. His defense lawyer, Sanjeev Teeluckdharry, says his client was also beaten in the face and on the heels.
Reading her clients statement to the court, Teeluckdharry said, "I was made to suffocate in a towel."
"I was brought to Piton police station and I was dealt two slaps at my face, at my left cheek and ear".
"I was brought to MCIT (the police's Major Crime Investigation Team) in Port Louis. There I was undressed and placed in a lying position, I was held by the police and assaulted at the heels and then I was dealt five slaps to my left ear and I can't hear well on one side.
He claims on another occasion police officers filled a bucket with water: "I was on a chair, I was gripped by the neck and placed in that pail of water".
Michaela’s brother Mark Harte and sister-in-law Claire McAreavey were in court this week for the proceedings, according to the Irish Independent. The victim’s widower John McAreavey was not in attendance, as he is due to be called as a prosecution witness later in the trial. The trial is expected to last two weeks.