Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Honeymoon murder suspect to appeal

Shrien Dewani is accused of murdering his wife on their honeymoon in South Africa

Lawyers acting for honeymoon murder suspect Shrien Dewani intend to appeal against a ruling that he should be extradited to South Africa to face trial over his wife's death, a spokesman for his family said.

Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle told Westminster Magistrates' Court that the 33-year old businessman should return to the country, despite arguments by his defence team that he could suffer setbacks in his mental health if sent back now. They argued that the decision should be delayed by six months.

The courtroom was packed with Mrs Dewani's relatives, who wore photographs of her pinned to their clothes, decorated with pink ribbons.

District Judge Riddle said: "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. 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. It is not impossible that if returned now, then after a reasonable period of further treatment and assessment he will be found fit to plead and a trial can take place."

But in a statement released after the ruling, Dewani's family said: "Lawyers acting for Shrien Dewani will review today's judgment and lodge an appeal during which time Shrien will remain in the UK.

"Shrien Dewani remains unfit to be extradited or to face trial. Shrien remains committed to returning to South Africa when his health would permit a full trial and when appropriate protections are in place for his health and safety. The legal process in ongoing and it would be inappropriate to comment further."

Dewani has undergone treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression since his wife's death. Dewani is suspected of ordering the killing of his new wife Anni, 28, who was shot as the couple travelled in a taxi on the outskirts of Cape Town in November 2010. So far three men have been convicted over Mrs Dewani's death.

Last year South African Xolile Mngeni was convicted of premeditated murder for shooting her. Prosecutors claimed that he was a hitman hired by Dewani to kill his wife, something that Dewani has consistently denied.

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

District Judge Riddle ruled in 2011 that Dewani should be extradited, but this was successfully appealed against and he was ordered to look again at the case. Dewani's legal team gave no immediate indication whether they would seek to challenge the ruling in the Supreme Court, the UK's highest court.

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