Northern Ireland

Jury out in Michaela McAreavey murder trial in Mauritius

Sandip Moneea and Avinash Treebhoowoon
Image caption Former hotel workers Sandip Moneea and Avinash Treebhoowoon both denied murder

The jury in the Michaela McAreavey murder trial have retired to consider their verdict.

Earlier the judge warned the jury not to act as politicians to pass judgement on the Mauritian Police.

Mr Justice Fecknah made the comments during his summing up speech at the Supreme Court in the capital city of Port Louis

Avinash Treebhoowoon, 32, and Sandip Moneea, 43, both worked at the hotel where she was killed in January 2011.

The jury in the trial of two men accused of murdering the newlywed from County Tyrone must take at least two hours to deliberate.

The trial at the Supreme Court in Mauritius is now into its eighth week.

It was expected to last two weeks but turned into one of the longest trials in Mauritian legal history.

While making his summing up speech to the jury the judge warned them not to let the trial of the two accused become a secondary issue.

He told the three women and six men they are not politicians and were not there to send the world signals about the island's police or judicial system.

He said it was their duty and privilege to make a decision purely on the facts.

The judge had warned that his speech would be lengthy - two or three hours long with breaks.

The decision does not have to be unanimous - if seven members of the jury vote for guilty, that would be enough.

Disturbing

Both accused deny any involvement in the murder.

The McAreaveys were on honeymoon at the Legends Hotel when John found 27-year-old Michaela dead in the bathtub of their room.

The teacher was the daughter of one of Ireland's best known sports figures, Mickey Harte, manager of the Tyrone Gaelic football team.

The police and prosecution said Mrs McAreavey had been murdered after disturbing thieves in her room.

Image caption John and Michaela McAreavey pictured at their wedding, days before she was murdered

The doctor who carried out the post mortem examination said she died as a result of asphyxiation caused by compression to the neck.

Five hotel workers would later be arrested over the murder, before two - floor supervisor Mr Moneea, and cleaner Mr Treebhoowoon - were charged.

Avinash Treebhoowoon confessed to the murder but said in court that he only did so after being beaten and threatened by police.

Help

A key witness was another man initially arrested, former room attendant Raj Theekoy.

He had been charged with failing to come to Mrs McAreavey's aid after claiming to have heard her cries for help.

However, he was granted immunity in return for his testimony.

He said he saw both accused leaving the McAreaveys' room around the time of the murder.

Oxfordshire-based forensic scientist Susan Woodroffe said no DNA from either of the accused was found in the McAreaveys' hotel room or on Michaela's body.

Thousands of mourners attended Michaela's funeral near her family home in Ballygawley.

The 27-year-old had married John McAreavey just 12 days before she was murdered, and was buried in her wedding dress.