Dewani murder: Questions raised over expert advice



London: Psychiatrists hired by the prosecution as well as the defence to assess the mental state of Indian- origin British businessman Shrien Dewani, accused of murdering his wife while on a honeymoon in South Africa, have been found to be business partners, raising questions over their advice.

Reports today said that psychiatrists from opposing sides were in fact business partners at the time the advice was tendered, but judicial officers were not told of the link between the two.

According to The Sun, psychiatrist Michael Kopelman was hired by prosecutors to give advice on Dewani's mental state.

Dewani, 31, then in turn hired another psychiatrist Nigel Eastman to provide another opinion for his defence.

The two experts issued a joint statement in which Eastman agreed with Kopelman that Dewani had depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Their evidence last July persuaded the High Court in London to suspend the extradition of Dewani to South Africa to face a trial for killing his 28-year-old wife Anni in November 2010, on the basis that he was too ill to plead.

The Sun report added that Kopelman and Eastman became business partners 13 days before making their joint statement.

"There is no suggestion their joint testimony was in any way altered or tainted by the business link, or that either in any way misled the court in giving their opinion", the report added.

The Crown Prosecution Service, which is acting on behalf of the South African government in the extradition process, confirmed that its lawyers were never told of the link between the two experts.

The angry family of Anni demanded an inquiry, concerned that the business link could raise issues of an apparent conflict of interest.

Anni's uncle Ashok Hindocha, reportedly said: "What the hell is going on? All we want is justice."

Dewani is accused of killing Anni, a Swedish of Indian-origin, in a township near Cape Town during the couple's honeymoon in November 2010.

PTI