Defence lawyer to be witness in Michaela trial

A defence lawyer who dramatically quit the trial of two men accused of murdering honeymooner Michaela McAreavey in Mauritius has been allowed to give evidence as a witness.

A letter written by Ravi Rutnah alleging police brutality by officers investigating the crime which the defence wanted to introduce into proceedings was also not objected to by the prosecution.

Mr Rutnah, a barrister for defendant Avinash Treebhoowoon, stepped down after claiming a senior police officer had attacked his professional integrity while giving evidence.

In a final flourish before leaving the Supreme Court in Port Louis, the lawyer declared to the jury that he would be back “Arnold Schwarzenegger-style”.

He is set to come good on that pledge after the prosecution raised no objection to his name being submitted as an additional witness.

His exit came after prosecution witness Chief Inspector Luciano Gerard outlined to the court how Treebhoowoon had confessed to murdering the daughter of Tyrone gaelic football boss Mickey Harte, along with hotel co-worker Sandip Moneea, in her room at the island’s luxury Legends Hotel in January last year.

As well as reading the defendant’s admission statement - describing in graphic detail the honeymooner’s last moments as she fought for her life - Mr Gerard made a series of claims about Mr Rutnah.

He said he was late arriving for a meeting with his client, after he signalled his desire to make a confession statement, and also shared food - fried rice - in a convivial atmosphere with investigating police officers.

Mr Rutnah said this amounted to an “accusatory attack” on his reputation that left him with no alternative but to withdraw from the case.

Treebhoowoon, 31, who said the confession was forced from him, and Moneea, 42, both deny the murder charge.