Shrien Dewani: Honeymoon murder suspect suffers extradition setback

Three High Court judges also refused to certify that his case raised issues that should go before Supreme Court

Honeymoon murder suspect Shrien Dewani has lost his latest legal bid to block extradition to South Africa, but his lawyers suggest the marathon legal battle could yet continue.

Three High Court judges today rejected all of his current grounds of appeal against removal from the UK and also refused to certify that his case raised issues of general public importance that should go before the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land.

Hugo Keith QC, appearing for the South African government, called for an end to legal proceedings that have gone on for over three years and for extradition to proceed, saying "enough is enough".

But Mark Summers, representing Dewani, 33, from Bristol, told Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas and two other judges in London that there was now "fresh evidence" relating to the millionaire businessman's mental health that could justify yet another reopening of his appeal.

Dewani has argued that he should not be forced from the UK to face trial over wife Anni's death until he has recovered from mental health problems, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

He is accused of ordering the killing of 28-year-old Anni, who was shot as the couple travelled in a taxi on the outskirts of Cape Town whilst on honeymoon in November 2010.

Mr Summers said the fresh evidence appeared to indicate that "that his underlying medical condition may be chronic - incapable of being treated".

Time was needed for medical experts to assess that evidence and its "possible implications", said Mr Summers.

Dewani is compulsorily detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act,

Mr Summers applied to the judges to delay formally "pronouncing" their decision for 14 days so that the 28-day period allowed for extradition would not begin to run immediately after their ruling.

He said the move was necessary to give doctors additional time to prepare new medical reports.

Refusing the application, Lord Thomas said: "The provisions of the Extradition Act are designed to ensure extradition is a speedy process.

"I therefore pronounce today. Any period that is applicable under the relevant legislation will run from today."

In court, Mr Summers conceded that the fresh medical evidence was currently not sufficient to justify an application to reopen the appeal.

The judge's decision raises a prospect of a race against time by Dewani's legal team to come up with sufficient material for an appeal - or consider taking their case to Europe.

Today's "last-ditch" appeal followed a ruling in January by Lord Thomas, Mr Justice Ouseley and Mr Justice Blake that it would not be "unjust and oppressive" to extradite Dewani if an undertaking was given by the South African government relating to how long he would be kept in the country without trial if his illness continues.

The South African authorities gave the necessary assurances, but Dewani's lawyers argued they were legally flawed on a number of grounds, including that they should have been given at a higher level.

Dismissing the challenge, Lord Thomas said: "We are satisfied that the undertaking given by the state of South Africa is in compliance with the undertaking we required in our judgment, and it is properly authorised by the state of South Africa."

After the High Court ruling, Anni's father Vinod Hindocha said outside the Royal Courts of Justice: "We are quite happy with the decision and we hope to get the answers that we have been seeking for the past three and a half years.

"I really don't know what happened to my daughter. We need answers. We hope to get justice."

He added that the lengthy legal process had been "torture" for the family.

PA

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