Dewani's sexuality adds nothing to case - judge

2014-10-27 21:02
Shrien Dewani sits in a car leaving the Cape Town High Court. (File: AFP)

Shrien Dewani sits in a car leaving the Cape Town High Court. (File: AFP)

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Cape Town - The State was dealt yet another setback in the Shrien Dewani murder trial on Monday, when Deputy Judge President Jeanette Traverso ordered that a potentially crucial witness stand down, as his testimony was not considered relevant to the case.

Dewani is on trial for the murder of his wife, Anni Hindocha, during their honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010.

One of the most-anticipated witnesses in the trial, German male escort Leipold Leisser, took the stand on Monday morning, dressed smartly in a dark suit.

According to earlier reports, he contacted British police not long after Anni's murder to tell them Dewani had paid him for "kinky sex", on three occasions in 2009 and 2010. Dewani had allegedly told him he needed to get out of his marriage.

Leisser started his testimony on Monday explaining what he did, telling the court that Dewani had slept over at his home, which was the first time a client had stayed the night.


However, he was only on the witness stand for a short time before Dewani's defence team objected to his testimony, on the grounds of relevance.

In what seems to have been a masterstroke from the defence, Dewani had admitted in a plea explanation, which was handed in on the first day of the trial, that he was bisexual, had visited gay dating sites, and had procured Leisser's services.

As Traverso pointed out to the court, the fact that Dewani is bisexual and has had sexual relations with Leisser and other men is common cause, and does not contribute anything new to the case, and nor does it suggest motive.

State prosecutor Adrian Mopp stumbled as he tried to explain that Leisser would testify that Dewani could not find a way out of his upcoming marriage, and feared being disowned by his family. Dewani's sexuality is widely believed to form a key component of the State's case against him.

However, Traverso did not accept this, sternly telling Mopp he cannot tell her the evidence must be relevant, but rather he must say why it is relevant.

Written arguments

Traverso then asked both sides to present written arguments to her on why they believe this evidence should be admitted, or should not be admitted to the court.

Two weeks ago, Traverso made it clear that Dewani's sexuality could not be considered relevant unless it clearly showed motive.

This was after the State called a British cybercrime investigator to the stand to detail a series of sexually explicit e-mail exchanges between Dewani and an unnamed man. But Traverso ruled the evidence inadmissible, despite Mopp's attempt to explain they provided context and showed he was conflicted about his sexuality and marriage. "Why is his sexuality relevant to the fact we have to deal with?" she asked.

After the adjournment, the taxi driver who transported the Dewanis from the airport to their hotel, and allegedly arranged the murder, took the stand. His testimony continues on Tuesday.

Read more on:    anni hindocha  |  shrien dewani  |  cape town  |  dewani trial

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