South African court acquits Shrien Dewani of plotting wife's honeymoon murder
British-Indian millionaire Shrien Dewani, accused of plotting the murder of his Indo-Swedish bride during their honeymoon here in 2010, was acquitted today as a South African court dismissed the case against him, citing lack of evidence.
Cape Town: British-Indian millionaire Shrien Dewani, accused of plotting the murder of his Indo-Swedish bride during their honeymoon here in 2010, was acquitted today as a South African court dismissed the case against him, citing lack of evidence.
Judge Jeanette Traverso threw out the high-profile case against 34-year-old Dewani even before he started his defence against the accusation that he plotted to kill his 28-year-old wife Anni.
Traverso said the prosecution's case against Dewani was weak and that she can see no reasonable prospect that she might find him guilty once she has also heard his defence.
The evidence presented by the prosecution fell "far below the threshold" of what a reasonable court could convict on, the judge ruled.
She said the evidence of the prosecution's main witness, taxi driver Zola Tongo, was "riddled with contradictions" and "highly debatable".
Prosecutors in the six-week-long trial said Dewani was a closet homosexual, and "needed to find a way out" of his marriage.
Dewani admitted at the start of the trial that he is bisexual and visited male bondage prostitutes. But he also insisted that he loved his new wife Anni and had no hand in what happened.
Traverso, the second most senior in the province, has made no secret of her dismay at the prosecution case. She rejected evidence about Dewani's sexuality as "irrelevant" and repeatedly lambasted the prosecutors leading it.
Dewani is accused of hiring three men -- taxi driver Zola Tongo, Mziwamadoda Qwabe and Xolile Mngeni -- to kill Anni on their honeymoon in South Africa in 2010.
Mngeni was sentenced to life in prison for the murder but died in jail. Qwabe was sentenced to 25 years. Tongo was sentenced to 18 years following a plea bargain deal.
Shrien lost a four-year legal battle in the UK to avoid extradition to South Africa, and was sent in April to stand trial.
Dewani is now free to return to Britain immediately.