Shrien Dewani extradition case set to resume in UK
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Last Updated: Thursday, April 11, 2013, 18:39
  
London: Extradition proceedings against NRI businessman Shrien Dewani, accused of plotting the murder of his wife during their honeymoon in South Africa in 2010, can be resumed as his mental health had "improved significantly", a British court was told on Thursday.

"He has improved, and improved significantly," prosecutor Ben Watson QC told Westminister Magistrate's Court here in reference to 33-year-old Shrien.

He added that Shrien's doctors reported that the accused had "neither plans nor thoughts to kill himself" but that spontaneous self-harm always remained a risk.

Shrien, who is being treated at a hospital in Bristol for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), had been excused from court attendance today on health grounds.

"There has indeed been an improvement, but just to underline, Dewani is still in the moderate range for both depression and PTSD," defence lawyer Julian Knowles QC told the court.

There is another hearing scheduled for May 15, with full extradition proceedings expected to resume in July.

Chief magistrate Howard Riddle said Dewani would be "most welcome" to attend the next hearing, but could be excused based on his doctors' assessment.

Shrien's 28-year-old wife Anni, a Swedish with Indian origin, was shot in the neck when a taxi in which she and her husband were travelling was hijacked in Gugulethu, Cape Town, in November 2010.

Last month, the care home owner from Westbury-on-Trym, a suburb of Bristol, was admitted to hospital after suffering severe chest pains.

"Shrien's health has seriously deteriorated. He was admitted to hospital last weekend suffering from severe chest pains. He also has a raised creatine kinase level, indicative of another poor reaction to the medication he is being prescribed to improve his mental health.

We are relieved that doctors have managed to stabilise him. We are extremely grateful for the swift action of the hospital staff and are hopeful of a recovery," a statement released by his family said.

Shrien denies any involvement in his wife's murder and has always maintained he wants to go back to clear his name.

In September 2011, Home Secretary Theresa May had approved an extradition order for him to face trial in South Africa, but proceedings were halted by the High Court in London on mental health grounds.

Three men have so far been jailed in relation to the murder in South Africa, including Xolile Mngeni, who was sentence to life in prison last December.

Earlier, taxi driver Zola Tongo was sentenced to 18 years in prison following a plea bargain as part of which he alleged he was approached by Shrien, who offered him about USD 2,100 to organise the killing and make it look like a carjacking.

Co-conspirator Mziwamadoda Qwabe was sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to shooting Anni.

PTI


First Published: Thursday, April 11, 2013, 18:39


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