• Sweden's news in English

British man cleared of killing Swedish wife

AFP/The Local · 8 Dec 2014, 14:40

Published: 08 Dec 2014 11:54 GMT+01:00
Updated: 08 Dec 2014 14:40 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Dewani walked free from the Cape Town court immediately after Judge Jeannette Traverso said the state's evidence had "fallen far below" the level needed to secure a conviction.

Prosecutors had said Dewani hired hitmen to kill his 28-year-old Swedish bride Anni in a staged hijacking in Cape Town in November 2010 because he is gay and felt trapped into marriage by family pressures.

Dewani says he is bisexual and loved Anni.

The judge conceded that there were "a number of unanswered questions" about the Cape Town murder and acknowledged "strong public opinion" that Dewani should take the stand.

Traverso also noted a plea by the murdered woman's family that Dewani should not be allowed to walk free without testifying, but said her ruling was based on law and could not be influenced by emotion.

She cited previous cases where it was established that it would be unjust to force the accuse to testify in his own defence simply in the hope that he would incriminate himself.

Dressed in an immaculate suit and tie, with his greying hair cropped short, 34-year-old Dewani stepped out of the dock and greeted his weeping mother and other members of his family.

The murdered woman's family also wept as they left the court in shock.

Both families are of Indian origin and had sat across the courtroom from each other since the trial began in October with graphic video of Anni's body sprawled across the seat of a taxi.

She had been killed with a single shot, execution style, prosecutors said.

Anni's sister told an international media scrum on the steps of the high court: "Justice has failed us."

A small but vocal protest group chanted "Justice for Anni" as her weeping family left, accusing the judge of favouring lawyers hired by the wealthy Dewani family.

The ruling is a blow to the reputation of South Africa's state prosecutors, coming after a lengthy and costly battle to extradite Dewani from Britain after the murder in November 2010.

Story continues below…

In Pictures: Swedish honeymoon killing murder trial 

Dewani's lawyers applied for his discharge at the end of the state's case, arguing that the evidence against him was so weak he should be acquitted.

Traverso agreed, delivering a scathing assessment of key state witnesses.

She said evidence given by taxi driver Zola Tonga that implicated Dewani in a murder plot was "highly improbable," while another prosecution witness was described as a "self-confessed liar".

Tongo and one of the hijackers -- both serving long jail terms for the murder -- testified that Dewani hired them for 15,000 rand ($1,300) to kill his new wife.

The taxi driver and Dewani were freed before Anni was driven away and later killed.

Dewani's lawyer Francois van Zyl argued that their evidence was full of contradictions.

According to South Africa's Criminal Procedure Act, an accused can be declared not guilty at the close of the prosecution case if the court feels there is insufficient evidence to show he or she committed the crime.

Dewani returned to Britain within days of the murder in November 2010 and fought a three-year legal battle to avoid being extradited to South Africa, claiming he had mental health problems, including depression and post-traumatic stress.

But he was sent back to South Africa in April, where he was found fit to stand trial and has been held at the Valkenberg psychiatric hospital for the duration of the trial.

He is now expected to leave South Africa as soon as possible.

For more news from Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Refugee crisis
Asylum requests in Sweden down by 70 percent
Sweden's migration minister Morgan Johansson. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Sweden received 70 percent fewer requests for asylum in the period between January and September 2016 than it did during the same time last year, the country’s justice and migration minister Morgan Johansson has revealed.

The unique story of Stockholm's floating libraries
The Stockholm archipelago book boat. Photo: Roger Hill.

Writer Roger Hill details his journeys on the boats that carry books over Stockholm's waterways and to its most remote places.

Refugee crisis
Second Stockholm asylum centre fire in a week
The new incident follows a similar fire in Fagersjö last week (pictured). Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Police suspect arson in the blaze, as well as a similar incident which occurred last Sunday.

More misery for Ericsson as losses pile up
Ericsson interim CEO Jan Frykhammar presenting its third quarter results. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

The bad news just keeps coming from the Swedish telecoms giant.

Facebook 'sorry' for removing Swedish cancer video
A computer displaying Facebook's landing page. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The social media giant had censored a video explaining how women should check for suspicious lumps in their breasts.

Watch this amazing footage of Sweden’s landscapes
A still from the aerial footage of Sweden. Photo: Nate Summer-Cook

The spectacular drone footage captures both Sweden's south and the opposite extreme, thousands of kilometres north.

Sweden could be allowed to keep border controls: EU
Police ID checks at Hyllie station in southern Sweden. Photo: Stig-Åke Jönsson/TT

Sweden could be allowed to keep ID controls on its border with Denmark beyond the current end date of November, following discussions among EU leaders in Brussels last night.

Why women in Sweden will work for free by November
File photo of a woman working in a Swedish office. Photo: Anders Willund/TT

A new study into the gender pay gap suggests Sweden still has some work to do.

Look familiar? Meet your jawbone's ancestor
Thank God for evolution, eh?

There's something fishy about the human jawbone – it has its origins in the placodermi, a jowly species of fish that lived 400 million years ago, Swedish and Chinese researchers say.

Isis claims unremarked arson attack in Malmö
The arson attack took place on Norra Grängesbergsgatan in Malmö. File photo: Emil Langvad/TT

An arson attack in Malmö that caused only minor damage and was barely reported in the media has been claimed by terror group Isis.

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Here's where it could snow in central Sweden this weekend
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden's 'a-kassa'
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
People-watching: October 12th
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available