Dewani’s suicide threats

2011-07-19 00:00

LONDON — Shrien Dewani has told his doctors that he will not commit suicide in England, but would do so in South Africa.

In England it would apparently point to his guilt, while in South Africa it would “embarrass” the authorities, the Belmarsh Magistrate’s Court heard yesterday.

Advocate Hugo Keith SC argued on behalf of the South African authorities that Dewan’s statement indicates a measure of premeditation, as well as a measure of control over what he wants to do.

Dewani’s state of mind is being used by his legal team as one of the reasons why he should not be extradited to South Africa.

According to psychiatrists he is suffering from severe depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome and is a high suicide risk.

South Africa is applying for Dewani to be extradited in order to face charges relating to the murder of his bride, Anni Hindocha, in Gugulethu near Cape Town in November last year.

Unshaven and dressed in a dark blue tracksuit top and brown trousers, Dewani appeared dazed and confused when the extradition hearing resumed yesterday morning.

Regional judge Howard Riddle again excused him from the proceedings after his advocate, Clare Montgomery SC, said it would be “inhumane” to force him to be there.

She said he has to start travelling at four in the morning from the Fromeside Clinic in Bristol, where he is undergoing treatment, to get to the court in London.

Travelling in a car, loud noises and the presence of many people aggravates his condition.

Dewani’s psychiatrist, Dr Paul Cantrell, said Dewani is not in a condition to be extradited.

According to Cantrell it is Dewani’s desire “not to be on this planet”. He just wants to hide in a corner and wishes that he had died in South Africa. Cantrell also believes there is a real danger that he may harm himself.

Keith put it to Cantrell that Dewani gave his doctors reasons why he would not commit suicide: because in terms of his religious beliefs he would regard that as the ultimate sin, and because of his family.

Cantrell conceded that Dewani is therefore displaying a measure of calculation and control. He also conceded that Dewani could, in fact, relate certain events in Cape Town during conversations.

He added that it could take a long time for Dewani’s condition to improve.

The case is exceptional because two conditions are co-occurring and because Dewani cannot be treated with anti-depressants, since he reacts to them.

He was taken off anti-depressants after it was suspected that they were causing his enzyme levels to shoot up and he was exhibiting “dangerous behaviour”.

Cantrell testified that Dewani could not have raised his enzyme levels artificially by exercising exceptionally hard, but he did say that Dewani would do push-ups and sit-ups, skip and lift weights for up to 90 minutes at a time.

On Cantrell’s instruction Dewani’s skipping rope was taken away from him.

The extradition hearing continues today.

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