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Swedish bride murder suspect's health worsens

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Swedish bride murder suspect's health worsens
06:34 CEST+02:00
A British man wanted in South Africa in connection with the murder of his Swedish wife, who was killed while the couple were on their honeymoon, has suffered a relapse in mental health problems, a court heard on Wednesday.

Shrien Dewani, 33, is being treated at a hospital for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder but his lawyer said last month his condition had "improved significantly".

Dewani's 28-year-old Swedish-born wife Anni was shot dead when a taxi the couple were travelling in was hijacked in a township on the outskirts of Cape Town in November 2010.

Clare Montgomery, a lawyer for Dewani, told Westminster Magistrates' Court in London that after he suffered a bad reaction, doctors had taken Dewani off the anti-anxiety medication which was most effective in treating his condition.

"We may have taken one step back having taken two steps forward," she said.

Despite the setback, the court heard that a full extradition hearing is still expected to start on July 1st.

In view of Dewani's condition, he has been sectioned for a further 12 months under mental health laws.

The businessman faces charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances and obstructing the administration of justice. He denies all the charges.

It emerged on Wednesday that the defence made proposals last month for Dewani to make a voluntary return to South Africa, although the details of the offer were not discussed in court.

Under the South African government's current plans, if Dewani is extradited his mental health will be assessed when he arrives in the country.

If he is considered at risk, he will be taken to the psychiatric unit at Valkenberg pyschiatric hospital in Cape Town, before being sent to the city's Goodwood prison.

Hugo Keith, representing the South African authorities, told the court they were happy for a defence expert to visit Valkenberg to assess its suitability.

He said he would need to take instructions on whether a similar inspection of Goodwood was possible.

Keith argued that the South African authorities would "trip over their corporate toes" to make sure that Dewani receives the right psychiatric support if he is extradited.

Chief magistrate Howard Riddle rejected a request from the defence to put back the full extradition hearing so a specific expert could visit Valkenberg in August.

"I am very, very reluctant to delay this case any further," he said.

AFP/The Local/dl

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