Two men accused of murdering an Irish woman honeymooning on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius pleaded not guilty at the start of their trial on Tuesday.
Michaela McAreavey, the 27-year-old daughter of Tyrone Gaelic football manager Mickey Harte, was found strangled during her honeymoon at the Legends Hotel in the village of Grande Gaube in January 2011.
The accused, Avinash Treebohun and Sandip Moonea, are both hotel employees.
Harte’s husband, John McAreavey, travelled to Mauritius for the court case. He is expected to appear as a witness in the case, due to be heard next on May 28.
“This is a very distressing time for both our families and the days ahead will be very difficult for us. We hope that the media will understand that we are anxious that nothing will be said or done that will compromise or prejudice the due process during the trial,” Claire McAreavey, John’s sister, said in a statement.
The families of murdered honeymoon bride Michaela McAreavey told of their distress and asked for privacy as the trial of her alleged killers started in Mauritius.
John McAreavey was besieged by television crews and press photographers as he made his way into the island’s tiny Supreme Court.
In a communique issued by the families’ lawyer they stated: “This is a very distressing time for both our families and the days ahead will be very difficult for us.
“We hope the media will understand that we are anxious that nothing will be said or done that will compromise the due process during the trial.”
Michaela McAreavey was murdered on her honeymoon at a luxury resort in the north of Mauritius just two weeks after she was married.
She was having afternoon tea with her husband when she returned to her room to fetch some biscuits.
At the time the police speculated that she had disturbed a burglary and the panicked intruders then strangled her.
Her new husband found her dead in the bath minutes later.
The trial is one of the highest profile criminal cases in Mauritian history.
Two men who worked at the Legends hotel – which has since changed its name to Lux because of the negative publicity – have been accused of the murder.
The trial is scheduled to last three weeks.