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Shrien Dewani loses extradition battle in honeymoon murder

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - 18:25

London: NRI businessman Shrien Dewani, accused of plotting the murder of his Indian-origin wife during their honeymoon in 2010, will be extradited from Britain to South Africa to face justice, a UK court ruled on Wednesday.

A judge at Westminster Magistrates` Court here decided that it would not be "unjust or oppressive" to extradite the 33-year-old, accused of plotting to kill his Swedish-born Indian wife in South Africa in November 2010.
Dewani`s lawyers now have 14 days to appeal against the order.

Anni, 31, was shot when a taxi in which the couple were travelling was hijacked in the Gugulethu township near Cape Town while the couple were on their honeymoon.

She was found dead in the back of the abandoned vehicle with a bullet wound to her neck.

A spokesperson for his family said the defence team would review the judgment and lodge an appeal, during which time Dewani would remain in the UK.

"Shrien Dewani remains unfit to be extradited or to face trial," said the spokesperson.

The Bristol-based businessman, who strongly denies any involvement in his wife`s murder, was seeking to delay his extradition on account of his mental health.

He had been excused from appearing in court, having been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression and has been receiving treatment at a hospital near his home city.

His risk of suicide is real but not immediate, and while he remains moderately depressed he is better than he was, the court was told today.

"It is not in question that Shrien Dewani will be returned to South Africa. The treating clinicians continue to state that Mr Dewani will recover," said District Judge Howard Riddle in his ruling.

"There has been recovery, but it has been slow. It may be a long time before Mr Dewani is fit to plead, but he may be closer to that point," he added.

Judge Riddle had ruled back in 2011 that Dewani should be sent back to South Africa to stand trial but this was successfully appealed against and he was ordered to look again at the case.

Dewani`s defence team have expressed concerns he would be a high suicide risk if he returned to the country, and his human rights could be breached because of the risk of violent and sexual assaults in jail.

Dewani and driver Zola Tongo were ejected from the car before Anni was driven away and killed.

Last year, South African Xolile Mngeni was convicted of premeditated murder for shooting her.

Prosecutors claimed he was a hit-man hired by Shrien Dewani to kill his new wife, something that Dewani has consistently denied.

Tongo was jailed for 18 years after he admitted his part in the crime, and another accomplice, Mziwamadoda Qwabe also pleaded guilty to charges over the murder and was handed a 25-year prison sentence.

Today`s hearing was attended by members of Anni Dewani`s family, who wore photographs of her pinned to their clothes, decorated with pink ribbons.

Outside the court, Anni`s sister Amy Denborg said: "We do not feel a sense of relief. This is just one step closer to what we are hoping for. It is not the end story.

"We just want to know what happened to Anni. It`s a step in the right direction. It has been really hard on the family. We are struggling."


First Published: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - 18:25

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