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#DoubeLife: Shrien Dewani admits he was BISEXUAL but denies plotting to murder wife Anni

British-Indian businessman Shrien Dewani has pleaded not guilty to charges of murdering his bride Anni Dewani while on honeymoon in Cape Town in 2010 but admitted that he was bisexual, on the first day of a trial during which his sexuality will be a key element in the prosecution’s case.

The 35-year-old businessman’s trial got underway nearly four years after Ms Dewani, a Indo-Swedish engineer, was gunned down during a hijacking as the couple drove through the notorious Gugulethu slum in Cape Town in December 2010.

Speaking from the dock at the Western Cape High Court, Dewani said he was “not guilty” of charges of murder, kidnapping and obstructing justice.

Dewani was flown to South Africa in April after a judge ruled that he was mentally and emotionally fit to stand trial.  He has spent the past two months in a psychiatric hospital near Cape Town.

Dewani is accused of orchestrating the murder of his 28-year-old wife with the help of three South Africans.

In a statement read out by his lawyer Francois Van Zyl, Dewani said: “I have had sexual interaction with both males and females.  I consider myself to be bi-sexual.

“My sexual relations with males were mostly physical experiences or email chats with people I met online or in clubs, including prostitutes such as Leopold Leisser”, the statement added referring to the German-origin male escort who is expected to be one of the prosecution’s key witnesses.

Dewani’s statement continued: “My sexual interactions with females were usually during the course of a relationship which consisted of other activities and emotional attachment.  I was instantly attracted to Anni and there was mutual chemistry.”

However, he said that their relationship had been a “turbulent” one. 

“Although we really frustrated each other, we were in love,” the statement added.

He said that Anni had become “stressed” as she prepared for the couple’s £200,000 wedding ceremony in Mumbai with the couple fighting over planning the wedding. 

Dewani admitted that Anni had wanted to “call off” the nuptials, a fact confirmed to a South African newspaper this weekend by her cousin Sneha Hindocha.

Dewani also admitted to suffering fertility problems due to unusually low levels of a particular hormone that left him with little hope of becoming a father. 

However, he said Anni had been sympathetic towards his plight. 

Above: Taxi driver Zola Tongo

The statement further made reference to Zola Tongo, the taxi driver who is also expected to give evidence in court against Dewani.

He said Tongo had “convinced” him to visit a restaurant in Gugulethu township made famous by the British TV chef Jamie Oliver. 

Dewani said that Tongo’s mini-van was attacked as soon as it left the motorway and entered the township “The next thing I remember was banging noises coming from the front and right-hand side of the car.  There was a lot of shouting in a language I did not understand.  The next thing I recall is somebody next to me, who told me to lie down.  The person had a gun in his hand. He was waving the gun in the air.  We were both terrified and immediately complied with his demands.”

“I was lying half on top of Anni. Another person was behind the steering wheel. I do not know where Tongo was at that stage.”

Dewani was then searched by one of the attackers and was asked to hand over any valuables before another took the wheel and drove off. 

He added: “The driver said that they were not going to hurt us, they just wanted the car and they were going to let us go separately.  I begged them to let us go together.”

He said he told Anni to remain quiet and to not say anything as he was thrown out of the taxi. 

He then began knocking on doors in the township pleading for help but he was unable to make anyone understand what had happened. 

The first video evidence shown to the court was harrowing footage of Mrs Dewani’s blood covered body inside the taxi. 

Earlier, Dewani, wearing a black suit, showed no emotion as he responded to the prosecution’s indictment by saying, “not guilty to all five counts”.

The indictment states that Mrs Dewani’s murder was ‘planned or premeditated’. 

Prosecutors are expected to say that Mr Dewani is a closet homosexual who ordered his wife’s death to escape from a marriage he felt pressured into by convention and his family.

Mrs Dewani’s grieving father said he believed the South African authorities have a strong case against his son-in-law.

“Three people are already convicted and all their fingers are pointing at him,’ Mr Hindocha, 65, said.  “He has to answer these questions, he never has.”

The South Africans tried and convicted are serving jail sentences of between 18 years and life for their role in Anni Dewani’s death.

Above: Leopold Leisser

The case has angered many in South Africa 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.

Mr Hindocha says it has been “a period of torture” since her death. “All I ask for is the full story and justice,” Anni’s father Vinod Hindocha told reporters in Cape Town on Sunday.

Another family member, Anni’s uncle Ashok Hindocha, said they hoped the trial would help them get on with their lives.

“We are not going to get Anni back … but we need to know the truth so we can move on,” he told a news conference.

Dewani fought a long legal battle to avoid being extradited from Britain to South Africa, claiming he had mental health problems, including depression and post-traumatic stress.

But an assessment by South African psychiatric experts found he was “not mentally ill” and “fit to stand trial”.

Contents of two statements to the police by Anni’s cousin and by Leisser, and leaked to the media, make startling claims of Anni’s unhappy engagement to Dewani.

Anni’s cousin Sneha Hindocha states that the couple’s 17-month courtship had been “rocky” and Anni had repeatedly felt “sexually rejected” by Dewani.

Meanwhile Leisser alleges that Dewani had told him he was getting married to a “lovely girl”, but he needed “to find a way out of it.”

The defence is likely to paint a picture of a happy newlywed couple.

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