South Africa has bent over backwards to accommodate Shrien Dewani and it is now time for the British businessman to be extradited to face charges of killing his bride, a court heard yesterday.
More than two years since his 28-year-old wife Anni was murdered during their honeymoon in Cape Town, a renewed extradition began yesterday to decide the groom's fate. Mr Dewani, 33, has consistently denied arranging the shooting but has been fighting extradition while being treated for depression and post traumatic stress disorder.
Yesterday he was given dispensation not to have to appear in the dock at Westminster Magistrates' Court but both his family and his late wife's relatives turned up for the hearing.
Hugo Keith QC, for the South African government, said that Mr Dewani's depression and post traumatic stress disorder had improved to such an extent that he should now be extradited. Mr Dewani's psychiatrist had declared him to be “far better” and he himself had given indications of wanting to return to Africa to fight the case.
Furthermore, he added the Director of Public Prosecutions in the Western Cape had offered assurances that he would immediately be transferred to a psychiatric hospital with good facilities if he was still unwell.
If he was found to be fit and not given bail, he would be held in a prison under the care of the same psychiatrist Mr Dewani's legal team had requested for his private treatment, and be allowed visits by other doctors to assess his condition.
“The Republic of South Africa has pulled out every stop in relation to this matter,” Mr Keith told District Judge Howard Riddle.
The newlyweds were in Cape Town in November 2010 when they were held at gunpoint by two men after taking a night time taxi ride through the township of Gugulethu. While the taxi driver Zola Tongo and the groom were forced from the car unharmed, Mrs Dewani’s body was discovered the next day in the abandoned car. The driver and two attackers, who claim Mr Dewani arranged the hit, have since been found or pleaded guilty and received lengthy jail terms in South Africa.
In 2011 Home Secretary Theresa May ordered his extradition but the High Court delayed it on the grounds it would be “unjust and oppressive” to send him to Africa due to his frail mental health.
Yesterday Mr Keith said: “We suggest the position now is very different to what it was in July 2011. The fact is there is even less case for concluding that his extradition would be oppressive. We suggest it is now, not only open to you but obligatory under the statutory scheme.”
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