THERE were chaotic scenes outside Mauritius’s Supreme Court as two men accused of strangling Michaela McAreavey arrived for the start of their murder trial today (Tuesday).
Michaela’s widower, John, also had to battle through unruly crowds to get into the court.
Accused Avinash Treebhoowoon and Sandip Moneea were led into the dock of Courtroom 5 as scores of people crammed into every available space inside. Dozens stood at the back.
Relatives of the accused were also jostled as police struggled to control the flow of people into court.
Mr McAreavey was accompanied by his sister Claire, father Brendan and Michaela’s brother, Mark Harte.
Michaela, the daughter of Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte, was found dead in the bathtub of her luxury hotel room on the Indian Ocean island paradise in January last year – just two weeks after her wedding.
The 27-year-old teacher had momentarily left her new husband beside the pool of the five-star Legends Hotel to fetch some biscuits for a cup of tea.
The case against hotel room attendant Treebhoowoon, 30, and floor supervisor Moneea, 42, is being heard in the Supreme Court building in the capital city, Port Louis.
Treebhoowoon, from Plaine des Roches, and Moneea, from Petit Raffray, deny premeditated murder.
Security has been ramped up around the old French colonial court building for what is one the most high-profile criminal cases ever held on the island.
The trial will start after a jury of nine is selected from a large panel of potential jurors.
Though most Mauritians speak a variant of French as their first language, court proceedings will be heard in English.
John McAreavey flew back to the island last Friday but Michaela’s father Mickey Harte is not attending.
Judge Mr Justice Prithviraj Fecknah will preside over the trial, which is expected to last two weeks. Thirty witnesses are listed to give evidence.
The Legends Hotel, which has since been renamed the Lux Hotel, is in the fishing village of Grand Gaube, close to Mauritius’s Grand Bay.