Port Louis – Three valets at Mauritius’ Legends hotel were charged with the death of the daughter of a top Irish sports personality who was strangled while on honeymoon, police said today.
They appeared before Mapou district court in the north of the Indian Ocean island where two of them were provisionally charged with the murder of Michaela McAreavey and the third with complicity to murder, said a police source.
After the hearing, the three, aged 29 to 41, were remanded in police custody. They will appear in court again in a week’s time.
Police said the suspects were the last people to have been in contact with the victim before her death on Monday.
The hearing comes as family members started arriving on the island. Michaela’s brother, Mark Harte, and the brother of bridegroom John McAreavey have already arrived, said Tourism Minister Nando Bodha, and her father, Mickey Harte, is expected tomorrow.
“This morning we welcomed the brother of the late Michaela, and John McAreavey’s brother.
We will welcome the victim’s father tomorrow and everything will be done to enable the family to return home with the body on Saturday,” Bodha said.
The death has rocked Ireland.
The 27-year-old teacher and former beauty queen was the daughter of Tyrone Gaelic football boss Mickey Harte, one of Ireland’s best-known sporting figures.
Computer records from the victim’s hotel room show that someone entered the room two minutes before she did, police sources involved in the investigation said today.
Police forensic expert Harish Baichoo told reporters “asphyxia due to compression of the neck” was the cause of death.
“Mauritius is a country where the rule of law exists, and we have every confidence that the police and the judiciary will track down and punish the guilty parties,” said Bodha.
Mauritius, a volcanic island surrounded by coral reefs and lagoons, is best known for top-end tourism and as a honeymoon destination. It welcomes 950 000 tourists per year.
John McAreavey is a nephew of Bishop John McAreavey of the Catholic diocese of Dromore in Northern Ireland.
Michaela McAreavey taught Irish and was a former contestant in Ireland’s popular Rose of Tralee beauty pageant.
Gaelic football is the most popular sport in Ireland, and many players and managers are considered celebrities.