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Anni Dewani inquest decision blow for murdered bride's family

Published 09/10/2015

Shrien and Anni Dewani at their wedding (Bristol Evening Post/PA)
Shrien and Anni Dewani at their wedding (Bristol Evening Post/PA)

There will be no full inquest into the death of murdered bride Anni Dewani, a coroner has ruled.

The decision means that, almost five years after she was found dead in a car in Cape Town, the 28-year-old's family still do not have the answers they desperately want.

Millionaire businessman Shrien Dewani was cleared last year of orchestrating the honeymoon killing of his wife, who was shot as the couple drove through the outskirts of the South African capital, on November 14 2010.

Mrs Dewani's family claimed there were still many unanswered questions about how she she died and asked for a full inquest to resume.

But at North London Coroner's Court, Senior Coroner Andrew Walker said: "I don't have sufficient cause to resume an inquest.

"In these proceedings, the matter will now rest."

Mr Walker added: "The fact that there are differing accounts of how Mrs Dewani came by her death does not, in my view, mean that the matters have not already been sufficiently established in public proceedings."

Having never heard Mr Dewani personally recount what happened on the fateful night, Mrs Dewani's family hoped he would do so at an inquest, or answer a set of questions sent to him after a hearing in September.

However, the 34-year-old did not attend, and instead wrote a letter which was read by his wife's father, Vinod Hindocha, 66, and uncle, Ashok Hindocha, 55.

Speaking outside court, Ashok Hindocha said that, despite the ruling, the family still have options available to them and that their "battle" will continue.

He said: "What can I say? We were hoping that some kind of legal representation for Shrien Dewani would be here, or he himself would be here - but no.

"We have got a few more options left, we are going to look through all of these options."

Mrs Dewani's uncle thanked the hundreds of people who had got in touch with the family on social media and email with questions to put to Mr Dewani.

He continued: "We sent them a bunch of questions that we wanted answered - no response.

"Then those questions were also not responded to in South Africa, and those are the questions so we can move on with our lives.

"Now we will have to go on with another battle; whatever it is we can't talk about it at this point.

"But this battle is not over, we will continue to fight this case. We need answers."

Issuing a direct plea to Mr Dewani, Mr Hindocha, standing beside Mrs Dewani's father, called on him to "speak up".

"This is not a legal court, he (Mr Dewani) should have just come here and said 'Look, this is what happened'."

Asked what the letter penned by the businessman said, he replied: "It is basically 'I don't need to be here, so I'm not going to'."

This was the first time the family had heard from Mr Dewani since his wife's funeral.

Mr Hindocha added that the process of trying to uncover new evidence, which could reignite the case, was "already ongoing".

Finally, he called on Mr Dewani to help bring matters to an end, saying: "Let's come to closure so we can move on with our lives."

Representing the Hindocha family, Christopher Staker had submitted that the proceedings in South Africa had raised more questions than they answered.

He continued: "The question that the family are desperately seeking an answer to is what happened between the time that her parents last spoke to her on the evening of the 13th, and the time that she was found dead the next morning in a car.

"And what circumstances led from one to the other."

However, Mr Walker said he was "prohibited" from coming to a conclusion which was inconsistent with the findings of the South African courts.

Mr Dewani was extradited to South Africa last year but the case collapsed after a judge found that it was "riddled with inconsistencies".

It meant he walked free before having to give evidence and he has never spoken publicly about what happened.

In a statement read out to the court, Mr Dewani described himself as "bisexual" and admitted he had slept with male prostitutes.

A key witness for the prosecution was a male escort who went by the name The German Master, but his evidence was ruled inadmissible.

Three men - Zola Tongo, Mziwamadoda Qwabe and Xolile Mngeni - were given jail terms for their role in Mrs Dewani's killing.

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