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Family dismay as Dewani cleared


Shrien Dewani has been cleared of the murder of his wife Anni in South Africa

Shrien Dewani has been cleared of the murder of his wife Anni in South Africa

Shrien Dewani has been cleared of the murder of his wife Anni in South Africa

The family of honeymoon murder victim Anni Dewani have said they will have sleepless nights for the rest of their lives after her husband was acquitted.

Shrien Dewani was found not guilty after Cape Town High Court judge Jeanette Traverso concluded the prosecution's case did not have sufficient evidence.

Dewani had been accused of arranging the murder of his wife in 2010. He said she was killed during a botched carjacking while they were on honeymoon in South Africa.

"In my view, the evidence presented in this case falls far below this threshold," Ms Traverso said. "The accused is found not guilty on this charge."

The British businessman promptly descended stairs leading out of the courtroom following ruling.

Anni Dewani's family bowed their heads amid shouting from the public gallery.

"With the ending of the case against Shrien Dewani today, our family who are in Cape Town return home with more questions than answers and sleepless nights for the rest of our lives," Ashok Hindocha, Anni Dewani's uncle, said in a statement.

South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority said it still believes Dewani orchestrated his wife's murder.

"It is unfortunate that Mr Dewani has been acquitted because we believe that he was involved," said Nathi Mncube, the prosecution's spokesman.

"The court did not find that he was innocent. The court said it could not rely on the evidence given by three witnesses who themselves had been convicted of the crime."

Mr Mncube denied that the case had collapsed because of a "shoddy police investigation".

The state's key witness, Zola Tongo, said Dewani paid him to hire two men to carry out the murder. Judge Traverso said the evidence given by the men who have already been convicted for the murder was riddled with inconsistencies.

The judge revoked the indemnity of a third man, a hotel receptionist who turned state witness after he was implicated in the murder.

"There were so many lies, mistakes and inconsistencies that one simply cannot know where the lies end and where the truth begins," said Ms Traverso, who delivered the ruling after deliberating for two weeks on the defence's application to dismiss the case.

"There is no evidence upon which a reasonable court, acting carefully, can convict the accused."

The family of Anni said they are disappointed Dewani did not give evidence, choosing instead to have a 37-page statement read out by his lawyer at the beginning of the trial. In it, Dewani admitted that he is bisexual in an apparent attempt to dismiss speculation over possible motive for murder.

The Hindocha family said Anni would not have married him "if she had known about his secret sex life".

Mr Hindocha added: "We will now go through this case with our lawyers to confirm whether we can file a lawsuit against Shrien Dewani in the UK."