Dewani case postponed

2011-01-20 12:45

The London hearing for the extradition of Shrien Dewani to South Africa for a murder trial was adjourned to February because he was ill, the City of Westminster Magistrates Court ruled today.

The court heard that Dewani (31) was diagnosed by a psychiatrist with an acute stress disorder and a depressive adjustment disorder, the Press Association in the UK reported.

Ben Watson, for the South African authorities, told the hearing that following the psychiatric report Dewani was judged unfit to attend court and was therefore excused.

Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle said he will review whether Dewani should attend on February 8, when the extradition case against him would be formally opened.

The court heard he is facing charges of conspiracy to murder, murder, kidnapping, robbery with aggravated circumstances and obstruction of the administration of justice, the PA report continued.

South African authorities are seeking to have Dewani, from Westbury-on-Trym in Bristol, taken back to the country to stand trial.

Anni Dewani, from Sweden, was shot when the newlywed couple’s taxi was hijacked in the Gugulethu township on the outskirts of Cape Town on November 13.

She was found dead in the back of the abandoned vehicle with a bullet wound to her neck.

Driver Zola Tongo was sentenced to 18 years in prison in South Africa after he submitted a plea agreement which implicated Dewani in an alleged R15 000 hit on Anni.

Shrien Dewani was quoted at the time as saying he was pushed out of the vehicle.

Watson said the South African authorities believe Dewani conspired with others to make it “appear as if they had both been the victims of a random hijacking”.

The next hearing is expected to deal with procedural matters and last about half an hour before being adjourned to a later date.

Julian Knowles, for Dewani, said in light of his condition there “may be difficulties” taking instructions from his client.
Dewani’s bail was extended.

Two other people – Xolile Mnguni and Mziwamadoda Qwabe – are in custody in South Africa for their alleged roles in the murder. 

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