Bristol

Shrien Dewani to be held in 'best prisons in SA'

  • 14 December 2011
  • From the section Bristol
Shrien Dewani
Mr Dewani denies any involvement in the killing of his wife

The jails where a man would be held who is accused of arranging the murder of his wife on their honeymoon, are the best in South Africa, a court heard.

Shrien Dewani, 31, is appealing against an order for his extradition to stand trial over the death of his wife Anni in Cape Town.

Hugo Keith QC, for the South African government, said if extradited, Mr Dewani could be in court within hours.

Mr Dewani denies any involvement in the killing of his Swedish wife, 28.

In August, a judge ruled Mr Dewani could be sent to South Africa to stand trial.

Home Secretary Theresa May signed an order in September, also approving the extradition.

The appeal, at the High Court sitting in London, began on Tuesday.

Clare Montgomery QC, for Mr Dewani, told the court her client was "too ill to be extradited", and would be at a high risk of suicide if he were sent to South Africa.

The care home owner, from Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, has been diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder and severe depression.

Mr Keith told the court that Mr Dewani would recover to be fit enough to face trial.

'Good enough'

The hearing was told that the doctor treating Mr Dewani at Fromeside Clinic in Bristol was convinced that he would be able to recover.

Mrs Dewani was shot dead when the taxi the couple were travelling in was hijacked

Mr Keith said the risk of Mr Dewani committing suicide fell well below the threshold that would block his extradition.

Even if care in South Africa was not as good as that which Mr Dewani was currently receiving, it was good enough, he added.

The barrister told the court that Mr Dewani could receive private medical care in South Africa or treatment at the Valkenberg secure unit.

On Tuesday Ms Montgomery argued that District Judge Riddle, who ruled that Mr Dewani could be extradited, had fallen into error when he accepted assurances from the South African authorities that her client's life and health would not be endangered.

Mr Keith told Wednesday's hearing that Judge Riddle had dealt properly with Mr Dewani's fitness to plead and the risk of suicide.

The court heard that if Mr Dewani were extradited, he could appear before South African magistrates and the High Court within hours.

The South African government believed it should be up to the courts there to decide whether or not he was fit to stand trial, he added.

'Plea bargain'

Ms Montgomery told the court that the South African authorities had not shown evidence that Mr Dewani would be properly looked after.

The appeal was also told that the secure unit at Valkenberg did not have single occupancy cells.

Mrs Dewani was shot dead when the taxi the couple were travelling in was hijacked in the Gugulethu township in Cape Town, in November last year.

Mr Dewani was released unharmed but his wife's body was found later in the abandoned car.

He is accused of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances and obstructing the administration of justice.

Taxi driver Zola Tongo, 31, from Bothasig, Cape Town, was sentenced to 18 years in jail in December 2010 for murder, kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances and perverting the course of justice, after agreeing a plea bargain.

He told the Western Cape High Court he had been offered 15,000 rand (£1,400) by Mr Dewani to kill his wife.

Mziwamadoda Qwabe, 25, and Xolile Mngeni, 23, are also charged with murder, and kidnapping and robbery with aggravating circumstances, and are due to face trial at the Western Cape High Court next year.

The hearing was adjourned until Friday when more psychiatric evidence about Mr Dewani's mental health is due to be heard.

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