NRI honeymoon murder suspect misses court due to acute stress

H S Rao

London, Feb 8(PTI) NRI businessman Shrien Dewani,accused of plotting the murder of his Indo-Swedish wife ontheir honeymoon, was too ill to attend a court hearing here onhis extradition to South Africa, his lawyer said today.

Dewani, who is allegedly suffering from severepost-traumatic stress disorder and clinical depression, didnot attend the brief hearing at Woolwich Crown Court in southeast London today.

The date for the next hearing was set for March 23 atCity of Westminster Magistrates'' Court, which Dewani will berequired to attend.

Dewani is accused of plotting to have his wife, Anni,28, who was killed in a Cape Town township last November, wasdue to appear at Belmarsh Magistrates this morning for asecond extradition hearing.

One of the gunmen accused of killing honeymoon brideAnni has also cast doubt on police claims that her husbandDewani plotted the murder.

Mziwamadoda Qwabe told police that, rather than beinga planned hit, there was never any intention that she shoulddie.

Vinod Hindocha, father of murdered honeymoon bride,has claimed her husband was pretending to be ill to avoidtoday�s extradition hearing.

According to the Daily Mail, Hindocha told a SouthAfrican newspaper that "sources" had seen Dewani out atrestaurants, undermining the claim by PR Max Clifford�s thathe is too ill to attend court.

"When you can go to restaurants to have meals, youcan�t be sick. Many sources have told me they�ve seen Shrienout in restaurants, which means he can go to court," Hindochawas quoted as saying by CapeTimes newspaper.

South African authorities want the Bristol businessmansent back to the country to answer charges that he paid 1,300pounds to hitmen to have his new bride killed.

A three-day extradition hearing will take place fromMay 3 to 5, determining whether Dewani will be forced toreturn to the country where his wife was killed.

Dewani vehemently denies the charge that he plottedthe killing of his wife on their honeymoon in Cape Town Tongoon November 13.

Lawyers for Dewani will question whether he wouldreceive a fair trial if extradited to South Africa for thealleged murder of his wife, the court heard today.

Ben Watson, representing the South Africanauthorities, said they had been notified of the issues thedefence intended to raise in the fight against Dewani''sextradition.

As well as questioning whether he would receive a fairtrial, the businessman''s lawyers will also bring up prisonconditions in South Africa and Dewani''s physical and mentalcondition.

Dewani also failed to appear at Westminster court onJanuary 20, citing symptoms of acute stress disorder.

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