A man accused of murdering honeymooner Michaela McAreavey has told a court he had no choice but to sign an admission after police allegedly threatened to lock up his parents and deport his wife.
Avinash Treebhoowoon wept in court as he claimed officers told him they could do what they liked to his loved ones because they controlled the government.
On his second day giving evidence in his own defence at the Supreme Court in Port Louis, Mauritius, the former hotel worker also alleged that police repeatedly pushed his head under water during interrogation, forcing him to vomit blood.
Treebhoowoon, who gave evidence in his native French Creole, and co-accused Sandip Moneea deny murdering the 27-year-old newlywed in the island’s luxury Legends Hotel last January.
Both defendants worked at the exclusive beachside resort at the time of the murder and the prosecution claims they attacked the daughter of Tyrone gaelic football boss Mickey Harte when she caught them stealing in her room.
Treebhoowoon told the court police threatened to send his wife Reshma to Ireland to live with Mrs McAreavey’s widower John, claiming an officer told him “that man’s wife is dead, he needs a woman to live with”.
He said police also said they would lock up and torture his parents.
“At that time I just thought of my family,” he said.
“I had to sign.”
Treebhoowoon signed a police diary book on the day in question – two days after the murder – admitting involvement. The following day he signed a full confession statement. He claims both were extracted by police brutality.
At one point judge Mr Justice Prithviraj Fecknah adjourned court for 10 minutes to allow the visibly emotional witness time to compose himself.
Mr McAreavey and other family members watched on from the public gallery.