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Murder suspect Dewani due in Cape Town court

AFP · 10 May 2014, 09:16

Published: 10 May 2014 09:16 GMT+02:00

After losing a three-year extradition fight in Britain, Dewani, 34, was remanded in custody at a psychiatric hospital when he arrived in South Africa on Wednesday.

He will appear at the Western Cape high court for a pre-trial hearing, at which the judge will assess the readiness of the prosecution and defence teams to start the trial.

Dewani, who returned to Britain shortly after his wife's murder, had fought his extradition, claiming he had mental health problems, including depression and post-traumatic stress.

He has been undergoing tests at the Valkenberg hospital in Cape Town to see if he is fit to stand trial.

If he is not found fit to face court within 18 months, he will be returned to Britain under the terms of his extradition.

On his arrival in South Africa Dewani was formally charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder and defeating justice by the country's elite crime-fighting unit, the Hawks.

"Dewani has been accused of orchestrating the murder of his wife. He allegedly ordered local men to carry out a hit on his wife and make it look like a fatal carjacking incident," the Hawks said in a statement.

"A substantial amount of money was paid for the hit."

Dewani denies ordering the killing of his 28-year-old bride Anni in Cape Town in November 2010.

He claims the couple were kidnapped at gunpoint during their honeymoon as they drove through the Gugulethu township in a taxi.

Dewani escaped unharmed, but his wife's body was found in the abandoned car the next day. She had been shot dead.

Prosecutors allege Dewani hired South African Xolile Mngeni to kill Anni. Mngeni was jailed for life for the murder in December 2012.

Two other men also jailed over the killing allege that Dewani ordered the hit.

The case sparked outrage among South Africans who accuse Dewani of callously using the country's reputation for violent crime to murder his wife in the belief that he would get away with it.

Vinod Hindocha, father of the slain bride, has expressed the family's relief that Dewani would finally face trial in South Africa.

"Now we hope we get the answers we've been looking for the past three and a half years," he said.

Dewani's family said in a statement that Dewani remained determined to clear his name.

"We look forward to his health improving, his name being cleared, and there being an end to this legal trauma for all involved," said the statement.

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