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Hotel Workers Cleared Of Honeymoon Murder
Two hotel workers accused of murdering an Irish woman who was on her honeymoon on the island of Mauritius have been found not guilty.
After just a few hours of deliberation, the jury acquitted 32-year-old Avinash Treebhoowoon and 43-year-old Sandeep Mooneea of killing Michaela McAreavey.
The eight-week trial - which was shambolic at times - has been watched extremely closely by local and international media.
It is the biggest hearing of its kind in the island's judicial history.
The case was all the more high profile because Mrs McAreavey was the daughter of Mickey Harte, the manager of the highly successful County Tyrone Gaelic football club.
The atmosphere in court was described as tense as Mrs McAreavey's family awaited the verdict inside the packed courthouse.
The case was meant to last just two weeks but instead went on for a month and a half and involved more than 50 witnesses.
In the end the jury decided the evidence was not compelling and delivered a not guilty verdict.
Both men broke down in the dock as the news was read out.
Members of the McAreavey family walked straight out of court when the foreman made the verdicts known.
In a statement they said: "After waiting eighteen 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."
Outside court Mr Treebhoowoon said he was overjoyed. He also expressed sympathy for the McAreaveys.
"I'm so sad about this lady," he said. "But I did not kill this lady."
Mr 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."
Michaela McAreavey was murdered on January 10 last year.
The 27-year-old religious studies teacher was honeymooning with her husband John at the Legend's holiday complex situated in the north of the palm-fringed tropical island.
The court heard it had been an ordinary day of "relaxing in paradise" for the couple.
They were taking afternoon tea when Mrs McAreavey decided she wanted her biscuits, which were in the couple's suite.
When she failed to return, Mr McAreavey asked a hotel worker to let him into their room.
Inside he discovered the body of his dead wife half-submerged and dumped in a bath.
A medical examiner said she had "compression injuries" to her neck and died as a result of asphyxiation - in other words she was strangled.
The prosecution claimed she had been murdered by two members of staff - Mr Treebhoowoon and Mr Mooneea.
The case has not been without controversy.
The defence was heavily criticised for using "smear tactics" in court after suggesting the young bride died as a result of violent love-making in an experimental sex game gone wrong.
No evidence was ever presented to the jury to support the claim, which Mrs McAreavey's family and friends found extremely upsetting.
The crime scene was also contaminated and no DNA evidence was found linking the pair to Mrs McAreavey's body.
The murder trial has had a huge psychological and economic impact on the island.
Tourism accounts for at least a quarter of Mauritius' economy and many residents fear the attack will have a lasting and negative effect.