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Swedish bride murder suspect 'not mentally ill'

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Swedish bride murder suspect 'not mentally ill'
Photo: AP
12:02 CEST+02:00
British millionaire businessman Shrien Dewani has been passed mentally fit and is set to stand trial for the murder of his Swedish bride a South African court ruled Friday.

Dewani, who was extradited from Britain in April, will have his trial begin on October 6th, Judge John Hlophe ruled after receiving an expert assessment which stated Dewani was not mentally ill.

"The draft handed in by the state is hereby made an order of the court," the judge said.

Dewani is accused of hiring three South Africans to kill his 28-year-old Swedish bride Anni in Cape Town in November 2010.

Dewani denies the charge, claiming the pair were hijacked 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.

Three South Africans have been tried and convicted for their role in Anni's death. Dewani, who had returned to Britain, for three years fought extradition but ultimately was sent back to South Africa to answer the charges.

He was extradited in April on the understanding that if he is not found fit to face trial within 18 months, he would be returned to Britain.

Prosecutor Rodney de Kok read from the report: "The accused is not mentally ill. He is not certifiable in terms of the Mental Health Act."

"The accused is fit to stand trial in terms of the Act," it said, allowing Hlophe to confirm the trial date and set a date for a pre-trial hearing.

"I will see you on September 9 for a pre-trial hearing," Hlophe said.

"Thank you, my lord," Dewani replied.

"Take him down to the cells," Hlophe said.

Dewani's lawyers indicated they would not contest the ruling. 

"He is fit to stand trial," defence advocate Francois van Zyl said. "That is the unanimous finding of all the experts. We are in agreement."

The prosecution is expected to argue that Dewani is gay and plotted to have his wife killed to escape an arranged marriage that he was pushed into by his family.

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.

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