Shrien Dewani's Life 'At Risk' Over Extradition To South Africa, High Court Hears

Shrien Dewani

First Posted: 13/12/11 12:28 Updated: 13/12/11 12:28   PA

The health - and the life - of British businessman Shrien Dewani will be at risk if he is extradited to South Africa to face allegations of masterminding the murder of his bride during their honeymoon, the High Court has been told.

Care home owner Dewani, from Bristol, who denies any wrongdoing, is accused of arranging the contract killing of wife Anni in Cape Town in November 2010.

Home Secretary Theresa May signed an order for his extradition after District Judge Howard Riddle ruled at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in south east London in August that Dewani, 31, should be sent back to South Africa to stand trial.

Clare Montgomery QC, appearing for Dewani, asked two judges to block the extradition order on the grounds that his mental health had deteriorated to the point where he was "too ill to be extradited" and was a suicide risk.

As family members looked on, Ms Montgomery also argued he was at serious risk of violence if kept in custody in South Africa, including sexual violence, at the hands of other prisoners.

Mrs Dewani, 28, from Sweden, was shot when a taxi the couple were travelling in was hijacked in the Gugulethu township on the outskirts of Cape Town. She was found dead in the back of the abandoned vehicle with a bullet wound to her neck after taxi driver Zola Tongo drove the newlyweds to the impoverished area.

He and Mr Dewani were ejected by the hijackers before Mrs Dewani was driven away and shot. Tongo, who has admitted his part in the crime, claimed in a plea agreement with prosecutors that Dewani ordered the carjacking and paid for a hit on his wife.

Dewani, who has been diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and severe depression, was not at the hearing at London's High Court.

Ms Montgomery argued he was so ill that he would be incapable of giving instructions to his lawyers or following trial proceedings, and extradition should be delayed until he had recovered.

The QC told Sir John Thomas, president of the Queen's Bench Division and Mr Justice Ouseley, that the businessman had always wished for a fair trial. She said: "However that is, at the moment, on the advice we have been given by those who are treating him, not possible."

FOLLOW HUFFPOST UK

Filed by Felicity A Morse  |