Anni Dewani’s family seeks closure

2011-07-21 14:28

London – The family of Anni Dewani – killed on her honeymoon in South Africa last year – has pleaded with a British court to “get us closure”.

Anni (28) was shot dead in a hijacking in Cape Town last year, in a murder her husband Shrien Dewani (31) is accused of ordering.

The South African authorities are fighting to have the Bristol businessman extradited for allegedly paying for the hit on his wife.

As District Judge Howard Riddle retired this morning to deliberate on whether Dewani should be sent back to the country to face justice, his Swedish wife’s family called for an end to the process.

Anni’s father Vinod Hindocha (62) said: “We’re really asking the court here: ‘Finish this, get us a closure so that we can move along with our lives’.”

After sitting through the full extradition hearing at the Belmarsh Magistrates Court in southeast London, he also declared his confidence in the British courts, saying: “I have full faith in the British justice system and I believe we will get the answers we need. We need the answers, we’re begging for that.”

Eleven members of Anni’s family flew in from Sweden for this week’s extradition proceedings. A further nine relatives from the UK joined them in the public gallery.

Dewani is said to be suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder.

His lawyers have argued he is too unwell to be extradited.

But Hugo Keith QC, representing the South African authorities, pointed out there was a chance his condition would improve, and his illness should not prevent his extradition in any case.

He told the court: “No one can possibly suggest that the South African authorities will receive an evidently ill man and then say ‘we don’t care, we’ll let him rot, he won’t get treatment’.”

Dewani’s legal team has cited evidence of the risk of physical and sexual violence in South African prisons and questioned whether he can receive a fair trial in the country.

His lawyer said: “The foreseeable consequence of removal will be an increase in the risk of suicide ... To extradite someone who’s unfit is oppressive.”

She argued Dewani would not be able to receive the family support he benefits from in the UK if he were to be held in a South African prison.

But if his extradition were delayed until he had recovered, he could then stand trial in a process that could raise “no questions”, she argued.

The honeymooners were being chauffeured through the township of Gugulethu, outside Cape Town, when their taxi was hijacked on November 13 last year.

Dewani, who denies any wrongdoing, was ejected, while his wife was murdered.

Her body was found the next morning in the back of the abandoned minibus.

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 is currently on bail at Fromeside Clinic, a secure mental health hospital in Bristol.

District Judge Riddle will rule on extradition on August 10.

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