Friends of bride killed in SA plead with husband

December 31, 2010 12:00 am

, LONDON, Dec 31 – Friends of Anni Dewani, murdered during her honeymoon in South Africa, have written an open letter to her husband urging him to answer accusations that he plotted her death.

The five friends who asked not to be named, begged 30-year-old British businessman Shrien Dewani to return to South Africa to clear his name, in a letter published in The Sun newspaper on Friday.

South African prosecutors have launched proceedings to extradite Dewani amid accusations he hired hitmen to murder his wife in November during their honeymoon in Cape Town. He is fighting the extradition in Britain.

In the letter, the friends asked why on the night of the murder he chose to take his 28-year-old wife to a sushi restaurant so far from their hotel when they could easily have eaten near the hotel itself.

And they asked why the couple left the restaurant after just 40 minutes.

Anni Dewani, whose family live in Sweden, was shot and killed during a reported carjacking on the outskirts of Cape Town.

Zola Tongo, the driver of the taxi in which the young bride was travelling, said he was paid 1,500 rand (220 dollars, 170 euros) for his role in the murder.

He was sentenced to 18 years in jail after he turned state\’s witness and implicated the victim\’s husband in plotting to kill her.

But Shrien Dewani\’s family claim Tongo\’s evidence is unreliable because he was offered a reduced sentence in return for cooperating with the investigation.

Anni Dewani\’s friends asked why her husband emerged without a scratch on his body.

"Why don\’t you voluntarily go to court and show South African police suspicions are wrong?" they wrote.

They also asked why his family had employed the services of Max Clifford, a high-profile British publicist more used to dealing with celebrities.

Clifford has insisted that the South African prosecutors\’ claims are "flimsy and ridiculous". He says his client is devastated by his wife\’s death and carries a Barbie doll to remind him of his lost love.

Dewani, who returned to Britain with his wife\’s body days after the killing, was later arrested after walking into a police station in Bristol in southwest England.

He was released on bail pending an extradition hearing and denies any involvement in his wife\’s death.


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