Shrien Dewani 'too ill to attend hearing'

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A British businessman accused over his bride's murder on honeymoon in South Africa left court today after a judge ruled he was too ill to attend his extradition hearing.

Shrien Dewani, alleged to have ordered the killing of his wife Anni in Cape Town in November, is said to be suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder.

South African authorities are fighting to have him sent back to the country to face justice but his lawyer, Clare Montgomery QC, argued he was "simply unfit to stand trial."

As his extradition hearing resumed this morning, she claimed it was "positively inhuman" to keep him in the court room.

District Judge Howard Riddle, who will decide whether the Bristol care home owner should stand trial in South Africa, said: "At least four experts have agreed that Mr Dewani's psychiatric health is fragile.

"(That) not only is he unfit to participate in these proceedings but furthermore that his health were to suffer if he were required to stay."

But he added that it was with "some considerable hesitation" that he allowed Dewani to leave.

The 31-year-old, wearing a navy blue Superdry tracksuit top and brown trousers, shuffled out of courtroom three at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court less than 10 minutes into the hearing, looking weak but showing no emotion.

He had been escorted to the south east London court from Fromeside Clinic, a secure mental health hospital in Bristol where he is on bail.

Relatives of 28-year-old Anni, including her parents Vinod and Nilam Hindocha, watched proceedings from the public gallery.

Speaking before the hearing, her family said they hoped for a resolution to the process this week.

Dewani's extradition proceedings began in May but were adjourned while a psychiatric report was completed.

Painting a picture of a South African penal system riddled with corruption, gang activity, sexual violence and HIV infection, Ms Montgomery cited damning reports on prisons in the country.

But expert witness Judge Deon Hurter van Zyl, South Africa's inspecting judge of prisons, played down her concerns, claiming much of the research she was quoting was "total exaggeration."

"I'm not aware of a gang being in control of any single prison," he said. "It's not been brought to my attention."

Responding to criticisms made in the studies quoted by Ms Montgomery, he said: "Most of this is hearsay, it's not based on facts."

He admitted, however, that gang activity and sexual assault in prisons did exist and that jails struggled to cope with mental illness among inmates as they lacked financial resources.

"I realise we're not in the situation people are in in the USA or UK, where attention can be paid (to mental illness)", he said.

"We do have a problem but there are always psychiatrists available, willing and able to assist if it's established we have an inmate with a mental illness."







The newlyweds were being chauffeured through the dangerous township of Gugulethu when their taxi was hijacked on November 13.

Dewani was ejected while his wife was driven off and shot dead. Her body was found the next morning in the back of the abandoned cab.

Taxi driver Zola Tongo, who has admitted his part in the crime, claimed in a plea agreement with prosecutors that Dewani ordered the car-jacking and paid for a hit on his wife.

Dewani denies any wrongdoing and his lawyers have argued he may not be safe if held in a South African prison.

His supporters have also questioned whether he would receive a fair trial in the country.

Judge van Zyl began his evidence in May, broadly defending the penal system and claiming Dewani could be jailed in a prison resembling a five-star hotel if convicted.