THE Harte and McAreavey families have issued a joint statement expressing their disappointment in the wake of the two not guilty verdicts following the trial into the murder of Michaela McAreavey.
Avinash Treebhoowoon, 32, and Sandip Moneea, 43, were unanimously acquitted by the jury at the Supreme Court in Mauritius.
Twenty-seven year-old Michaela was murdered on her honeymoon in January 2011. She was married to Tullylish gaelic footballer John McAreavey.
"After waiting 18 months in search of justice for Michaela and following the endurance of seven harrowing weeks of this trial, there are no words which can describe the sense of devastation and desolation now felt by both families," the statement said.
The families said they would be making no further comment until they returned to Ireland.
Both verdicts were unanimous and the jurors took two hours to deliberate. Members of the McAreavey family walked straight out of court when the foreman of the jury made the verdicts known. Both of the accused broke down in tears in the dock while their relatives jumped to their feet, cheering wildly.
Outside court Treebhoowoon said he was overjoyed but also expressed sympathy for the McAreaveys. "I'm so sad about this lady," he said. "But I did not kill this lady."
Moneea wept as he hugged his lawyer Rama Valayden. "I am so happy to be back with my family," he said. "These past 18 months have been so hard."
There were chaotic scenes as the two acquitted men walked out of the court. Throngs of people cheered "justice, justice" in Creole as policemen hurried the men through the courtyard. Moments later defence lawyers were carried aloft.
Supporters of the acquitted men let off fireworks at the front of the Supreme Court building as celebrations continued. "I have been saved by the Lord Rama," Moneea shouted as he embraced his barrister.
There will be more on this story in Tuesday’s edition of the Leader.