Michaela Harte-McAveary Murder « Outrage to religious and public morality » ! Firstly, pictures of dead bodies are published all over the world, from John F Kennedy and Sanjiv Gandhi to Sadam Hussein and Muammar Ghadafi. Even pictures of dead women, children and babies are splashed across the media with blood and shattered limbs. Why should the publication, by Imraan Hosany, Director of The Sunday Times, Mauritius, of pictures of the crime scene and the dead body of the Irish national Michael Harte-McAveary murdered in her hotel room on 10th January 2011 when she was on honeymoon in Mauritius such an exception?
Is it unlawful to publish pictures of the crime scene and of the dead body?
Amitabh Bachan and Rajiv Gandhi at Indira’s funeral: The assassination was a traumatic moment in Indian history
(Source : The Sunday Times, India)
On 12th July 2012, the two accused in Michaela McAveary’s murder trial were acquitted by the jury in a unanimous decision and the euphoria was one of celebration and unprecedented attack against the Police, totally forgetting the gruesome murder of the young Irish lady. The Director of the weekly newspaper decided to rectifier le tir and to inform people, only a few days after the acquittal, what the unresolved problem is still about in an attempt to bring those celebrating to their senses. He decided to publish those pictures. However, he admitted that the family of the victim may find it offensive and apologised for it, but there was no malice on his part other than to break the insane euphoria, including the attack on the Police who investigated the murder, which was going on, so people are properly informed.
This was deemed offensive both by the Police and by the Defence Lawyers. On the one hand, the Police are under attack for bungling their investigation and failed to secure convictions against the accused when the real culprits are still at large. On the other hand, the Defence lawyers felt that the publication of those pictures undermined their case and was aimed at them. In this sense, both the Police and the Defence lawyers are united. Moreover, no family would want to see the dead photos of their loved one splashed across the media. The family of the victim objected and the Police swiftly arrested the Director of The Sunday Times, incarcerated him overnight and charged him with « Outrage à la moralité publique et religieuse »
, Défi 19th July 2012. (Where is Nita Deerpalsing’s secularism gone?) Now, suddenly, the problem is not that the murderers are still at large and could strike again, but that a journalist had dared inform the people, after the trial was over, what the real problem is all about by publishing the pictures of the dead body of Michaela McAveary, a murder which has nothing to do with the journalist who is merely doing his job. Defence Lawyer Ravi Ruthna
But, so far, the Police has found nothing wrong when, very early in the trial, Defence Lawyer Ravi Ruthna withdrew from the case alleging he did not agree with the Police Investigator Luciano Gérard’s version of the interrogation of his client (Accused No.1) and would need to become a witness in the case, hence persuading the jury that the Police was lying. This is what this whole case turned out to be about. Moreover, upon withdrawing, the reasons he gave were widely published in the press while the trial was going on, but he was never called in as a witness. It appears like a ploy of the defence to poison the mind of the jury. The lawyer was not arrested and no action for contempt of court is being contemplated against him, so far as people know. How is it possible that the journalist was arrested and charged for « outrage to public morality » for publishing, after the trial, pictures of the crime scene and of the victim to better inform people what the problem is really about? Justice not done
It is surprising that the Police find nothing wrong with those who are outraging public and religious morality by publishing pictures of semi-nude women and justifying male and female homosexuality, sodomy, allegedly because a person is free to do what he/she likes with his/her body when homosexuality and sodomy are both illegal in Mauritius. However, publishing pictures of a dead person may be seen as wrong, but is not necessarily deemed unlawful. It is purely informative, especially in the context in which it has been published. At no time was it intended to offend the religion (Catholicism) of the victim and her family or the public. The Director of The Sunday Times, Imraan Hosany, has already tendered an apology. Some other papers are regularly inciting religious hatred without even allowing rights of reply. The legalisation of abortion, albeit in specific cases, is more of an outrage to Catholicism than the publication of the dead body of a victim, Catholic or not, at a time when people are rejoicing the acquittal of the accused in what many regard as a farcical trial and a perverse decision. This is echoed by Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister, Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, who said that « the acquittal of two men over the murder of honeymooner Michaela McAreavey was perverse »
and that he would campaign for « a retrial in Mauritius over the unsolved killing »
, Belfast Telegraph, 19th July 2012.
Justice has not been done. It does not do any good to try and find scapegoats.
M Rafic Soormally
20 July 2012