Shrien Dewani “too ill” to attend extradition hearing

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The judge hearing the extradition case against Shrien Dewani, wanted by South African authorities to face trial for the alleged murder of his wife in November last year, has ruled that Mr Dewani is too ill to attend the hearing.

South African prosecutors allege that Mr Dewani arranged the murder of his wife, paying a local taxi driver to stage a fake hijacking.  Mr Dewani was thrown out of the taxi in the Cape Town district of Gugulethu, notorious for its high rate of violent crime while his wife was driven off and then shot dead.  Her body was later discovered by the side of the road.

The couple were on their honeymoon, having been married only the previous week.

Taxi driver Zola Tongo has admitted his part in the crime, and claimed in a plea agreement with prosecutors that Mr Dewani ordered the murder.  Mr Dewani strongly denies the allegation.

Mr Dewani’s barrister told the court that her client’s mental health was too frail to withstand attendance.  Mr Dewani is currently being treated for severe post traumatic stress syndrome as an in-patient at a psychiatric hospital in southern England.  

The judge agreed that Mr Dewani’s mental health was “fragile” and, albeit with “considerable hesitation”, agreed to excuse him from the hearing.  

The hearing continues in Mr Dewani’s absence.  The hearing was delayed from May when a delay was requested in order for Mr Dewani to seek medical treatment.  A ruling on the extradition bid is expected within four days.