British-Indian businessman Shrien Dewani has lost a High Court appeal to block his extradition to South Africa to stand trial for the murder of his wife Anni during the couple’s honeymoon in 2010.
A panel of judges ruled on Friday that it would not be “unjust and oppressive” to force Dewani to travel to South Africa.
The decision was based, the judges said, on an assurance by South African prosecutors that Dewani, 33, would be sent back to the UK if found “unfit” to stand trial.
Dewani, from Bristol, has been fighting removal from the UK to face proceedings over his wife Anni’s death until he has recovered from mental health problems, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The nursing care home owner, who has been detained at a medical facility in Bristol under the Mental Health Act, is accused of ordering the killing of his new wife Anni, 28, who was shot and killed as the couple took a tour of the Gugulethu township outside Cape Town in November 2010.
Lawyers for Mr Dewani are understood to be preparing a final appeal to the Supreme Court to stop the extradition.
His lawyers have stressed at various hearings that he will be willing to defend himself at trial once he is fit to do so, but they say he is unfit to plead under English law and his ‘prognosis is not certain’.
So far three men have been convicted over Mrs Dewani’s death.
South African Xolile Mngeni was convicted of premeditated murder for shooting her. Prosecutors claimed he was a hitman hired by Dewani to kill his wife, which Dewani has consistently denied.
Taxi driver Zola Tongo was jailed for 18 years after he admitted his part in the killing and another accomplice, Mziwamadoda Qwabe, also pleaded guilty to murder and was handed a 25-year prison sentence.
Anni’s father Vinod Hindocha said today: “Since she was taken from us, life has been practically unbearable. I don’t know how we have managed to carry on.
“But the fact that we need Dewani to explain what happened on the night she was murdered has driven us each and every hour.
“I feel no joy whatsoever at today’s decision. But I do thank the judges and the British courts for being absolutely fair and proper in considering all the details’.
Mr Hindocha, speaking from his home in Mariestad,Sweden, added: “I have said all along that I will be happy to go to South Africa with my arm around Shirien’s shoulder and support him.
“If he is innocent, I will accept that.”
The judges were asked to decide whether a person who is unfit to plead is ‘an accused’ for the purpose of the Extradition Act 2003 ‘if he is being extradited in circumstances where he may remain unfit to plead’.
They were also asked to rule on whether it was ‘unjust or oppressive to extradite a person who is agreed at the time of the determination to be unfit, whatever the prognosis’.
Dewani’s family have said that he remains committed to returning to South Africa ‘when his health would permit a full trial and when appropriate protections are in place for his health and safety’.
A lawyer for the South African government said it was ‘delighted’ with the court’s ruling and expected it would be able to give the undertaking, but needed 14 days ‘for final clarification’.