Dewani loses latest appeal against extradition for trial over his wife’s honeymoon death
SHRIEN Dewani could be sent to South Africa in two weeks after losing the latest legal battle against his extradition.
However, his team still have the option of a last-ditch appeal at the European Court of Human Rights.
Dewani, 33, from Bristol, had argued that he should not be forced from the UK to face trial over wife Anni’s death until he has recovered from mental health problems.
His lawyers also asked for permission to take the case to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the country.
But a panel of judges refused the request today, and also rejected complaints about the adequacy of an undertaking given by the South African government about how long Dewani could be held in the country without trial.
Dewani is accused of ordering the killing of his 28 year-old bride, who was shot as the couple travelled in a taxi on the outskirts of Cape Town while on honeymoon in November 2010.
After the High Court ruling, Anni’s father Vinod Hindocha said: “We are quite happy with the decision and we hope to get the answers that we have been seeking for the past three and a half years.
“I really don’t know what happened to my daughter. We need answers. We hope to get justice.”
He added that the lengthy legal process had been “torture” for the family.
Cousin Amit Kari said: “It’s been three years and four months and the court has finally made their decision.
“It’s now up to the European Court of Human Rights.”
Asked about Dewani’s mental state, Mr Kari said: “We don’t have all the medical evidence – it is not for us to decide, it’s for the medical people to decide.”
Dewani is accused of arranging the killing of his wife Anni while they were on honeymoon.
Dewani’s lawyers today argued that his mental health conditions, which include depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, may have become “chronic” and “untreatable”.
Mark Summers, representing Dewani, 33, from Bristol, told Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas and two other judges at the High Court in London that there was now “fresh evidence” relating to his mental health.
But the judges rejected their arguments.
Throwing out the appeal, Lord Thomas, said: “There are two matters before this court at this stage. The first concerns the sufficient of an undertaking given by the Republic of South Africa”.
The undertaking promises to release Dewani if he is determined to be unfit to stand trial after 18 months.
Mr Summers had argued it did not bind the hands of the South African government as a whole.
“We cannot accept that argument’, Lord Thomas said.
“It seem to us likely on the whole of the evidence before us, that it [the undertaking] plainly binds the state of South Africa.
“Serious repercussions on the ordinary rules of international law’ would follow if South Africa broke the agreement, the court heard.
“It follows therefore that the appeal fails and is dismissed.”
The judge gave the go-ahead to the extradition, saying “our decision is final”.
The ruling represents the end of the appeals process in British courts.
However, Dewani’s legal team are likely try a final bid to avoid his extradition by lodging an appeal with the ECHR.
Dewani is now subject to a 14 day “grace period” during which nothing can be done to extradite him. However, once this expires, the authorities will have 28 days to remove him from the country.
Anni Dewani was murdered on November 13, 2010.
Taxi driver Zola Robert Tongo later admitted murdering her in a plea bargain, was was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Mziwamadoda Qwabe pleaded guilty to her murder in August 2012 and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Xolile Mngeni, 23, was convicted of her murder on 19 November 2012, and sentenced to life in jail.
Dewani can make one final appeal to European judges