Honeymoon murder: Shrien Dewani now well enough to be extradited

British businessman Shrien Dewani, accused of plotting his wife’s murder on honeymoon in Cape Town, is ready for extradition to South Africa to stand trial, prosecutors say.

Dewani_2012253iThe mental condition of Shrien Dewani, accused of murdering his wife on honeymoon in Cape Town, has become stable enough to allow him to be extradited to South Africa, a court in London was told in an extradition hearing that began on Monday.

The British businessman was accused of orchestrating his bride Anni Dewani’s murder in November 2010 always denied the charges and tried to stop his extradition, citing human rights on grounds of his poor mental health related to post-traumatic stress. He is still being treated for depression at a hospital in his home town of Bristol.

However, Hugo Keith QC, a barrister for the South African government, told Westminster magistrates court that Dewani’s condition has improved enough to begin an extradition process, even if he later had to spend time in a Cape Town psychiatric hospital before any trial.

“We suggest that the evidence shows that there has been a significant improvement,” he said.

The 33-year-old still shows poor memory and inability to concentrate, or to go over events connected to his wife’s murder, so he is not yet fit to stand trial, but as his depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicide risk have decreased, it is sufficient for his extradition to be ordered, Keith argued.

In March the high court decided that it would be “unjust” to extradite Dewani whose health was deteriorating. Back then his psychiatrists said he was suffering from severe depression and was at a significant risk of suicide.

Keith told chief magistrate Howard Riddle that the evidence showed Dewani was recovering, as doctors assessed his depression to be moderate, and the PTSD moderate to severe. According to Keith, Dewani was also “no longer making active references to the possibility of self-harm or suicide.”

Anni Dewani was shot dead when a taxi in which the couple were travelling was hijacked in Gugulethu. Her husband and the taxi driver, Zola Tongo, were thrown out of the car before she was driven away and killed. She was later found dead, with a bullet wound in her neck, in the back of the abandoned car.

Three South Africans have already been convicted for their part in the crime. Tongo admitted his guilt and was jailed for 18 years, while his accomplice Mziwamadoda Qwabe pleaded guilty to murder charges and received a 25-year prison sentence. Both claimed they were hired by Dewani to make it look like a carjacking and appear as if he had nothing to do with his wife’s murder. Xolile Mngeni, who shot Anni Dewani, was also sentenced to life for premeditated murder last year.

Keith said that South African authorities would cater to Dewani’s needs if he were extradited. He would be treated at the general psychiatric unit at Valkenburg hospital in Cape Town, if he was still ill.

If given bail, Dewani could also decide to receive treatment there, which would be paid for by the South African government.