Honeymoon murder suspect Shrien Dewani loses High Court move to block extradition

 

Shrien Dewani, who is accused of organising the murder of his wife Anni, has lost a High Court bid to block his extradition to South Africa until he is fit to stand trial.

Mr Dewani, from Bristol, has been fighting removal from the UK to face proceedings over his wife's death until he has recovered from mental health problems, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mr Dewani is currently detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act. He is accused 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.

His lawyers have stressed at various hearings that he will be willing to defend himself at trial once he is fit to do so, but argue he is unfit to plead under English law and his "prognosis is not certain".

But a panel of three judges, headed by Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas, ruled it would not be "unjust and oppressive" to extradite him if an undertaking were given by the South African government relating to how long he would be kept in the country without trial.

The court heard today that the government indicated it was willing to give that undertaking.

A lawyer for the South African government said it was "delighted" with the court's ruling and expected it would be able to give the undertaking, but needed 14 days "for final clarification".

Mr Dewani's family have also said he 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".

Today's ruling followed a hearing at the High Court last year. Those proceedings took place after an earlier decision that there were outstanding legal issues which needed to be decided.

Last July, chief magistrate Howard Riddle ruled at Westminster Magistrates' Court that Mr Dewani should be extradited and rejected his attempt to stay in the UK for further hospital treatment.

He said that while Mr Dewani was not fit to plead or stand trial at present, there was evidence that he would receive the care he needed in South Africa.

Judge Riddle originally approved Mr Dewani's extradition in 2011 but had to reconsider the position after the High Court later allowed an appeal.

The High Court proceedings centred around two legal issues. The first related to Mr Dewani's status as "an accused person", and the second concerned whether it would be "unjust and oppressive" to extradite him "regardless of the prognosis" of his mental condition.

The judges were asked to decide whether a person who is unfit to plead is "an accused" for the purpose of the Extradition Act 2003 "if he is being extradited in circumstances where he may remain unfit to plead".

They were also asked to rule on whether it was "unjust or oppressive to extradite a person who is agreed at the time of the determination to be unfit, whatever the prognosis".

Three men have already been convicted over her murder. South African Xolile Mngeni was convicted of premeditated murder for shooting her. Prosecutors claimed he was a hitman hired by Dewani to kill his wife, a claim that Mr 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 received a 25-year prison sentence.

Lord Thomas said: "It might be unjust and oppressive to order the return of a person who was agreed to be currently unfit and where there was a prospect that he might remain permanently unfit without considering whether an undertaking should be required from the requesting state."

He added: "The circumstances of this case are such that we consider, on the findings made by the district judge, it would be unjust and oppressive to return him without such an undertaking."

"The effect of the undertaking would be that "in the event of the appellant (Dewani) being found unfit to be tried, he will be free to return to the UK, unless there is found to be a realistic prospect of his being tried with a year - or other stated reasonable period - of that finding and the trial takes place within the period".

Lord Thomas continued: "In any event the appellant must be free to return in the event a court in South Africa, having found him unfit to be tried, embarked on the process of determining under the Criminal Procedure Act 1977 whether he did the act."

He concluded: "If such an undertaking was given, then it would not be oppressive or unjust."

Additional reporting by Press Association

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
News
people
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
filmThe singers widow and former bandmates have approved project
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
News
i100
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Environment
The vaquita is being killed by fishermen trying to catch the totoaba fish, which is prized in China
environmentJust 97 of the 'world's cutest' sea mammals remain
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?