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Suspects charged in death of Gaelic footballer's wife

By Peter Taggart, For CNN
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Gaelic football star's wife killed
  • The 27-year-old was on her honeymoon with Gaelic football star John McAreavey in Mauritius
  • Mauritius police say McAreavey is not a suspect in his wife's death
  • "This is too horrible to contemplate. We are just all devastated," says her father, Mickey Harte

(CNN) -- Three suspects appeared in a Mauritius court Wednesday in connection with the death of Michaela Harte-McAreavey, daughter of a leading Irish sports figure and wife of Gaelic football star John McAreavey.

The three men are all employees of a luxury hotel where the 27-year-old newlywed was found strangled Monday, according to the Mauritius Police Force.

Room attendant Avinash Treebhoowoon, 29, and Sandip Moneea, 41, a floor supervisor, have been charged with murder. Room attendant Raj Theekoy, 33, faces a conspiracy charge.

The men appeared Wednesday morning at Mapou District Court in northern Mauritius, police said. They've been remanded in custody to appear again in court January 19.

"We believe we have substantial evidence to connect them to the case," said police Superintendent Yoosoof Soopun, who is leading the investigation.

Soopun said the three men were employees of the Legends Hotel, and authorities believe they were inside the teacher's hotel room when she returned alone.

"We presume they were inside and burgling the room when the lady returned and were surprised and attacked her," Soopun said.

The killer used an electronic key card to enter the room, authorities said.

The former beauty queen's husband was in the restaurant of the hotel when his wife was killed and was not a suspect, Soopun said.

She had returned to their room to fetch biscuits to go with her tea. When she failed to return, her husband went to look for her and found her dead, Soopun said.

A post-mortem examination showed that she had died from asphyxiation, said Dr. Sudesh Kumar Gungadin.

Harte was the daughter of one of the best-known figures in Irish sports, Mickey Harte, the Tyrone Gaelic football manager.

In a statement outside his house Tuesday, Harte said his family was "devastated," and offered support to his son-in-law.

"What a day she had on her wedding day. She was just radiant, a beautiful girl, and I just love her to bits. So did her whole family," Harte said.

"We will miss her so much," he added. "This is the worst nightmare that anyone can imagine. If you think things can be bad, then you go beyond that because that is where we are.

"This is too horrible to contemplate. We are just all devastated. It is the worst of the worst and our hearts are broken," Harte said.

Harte asked the media to refrain from contacting his son-in-law, who's "isolated out there" in Mauritius, he said.

"Our hearts go out to him," Harte said. "The lad is devastated. He is our son-in-law. He is a wonderful young man. Please lay off."

Harte-McAreavey taught Irish at St Patrick's Academy in Dungannon, County Tyrone, in Northern Ireland. She won the Ulster Rose of Tralee contest and participated in other beauty pageants.