S.Africa court orders mental tests for honeymoon murder suspect

June 20, 2014 10:02 am
British businessman Shrien Dewani (R) and his father Prakash Dewani arrive at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court, in south-east London, on February 24, 2011/AFP
British businessman Shrien Dewani (R) and his father Prakash Dewani arrive at Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court, in south east London, on February 24, 2011/AFP

, CAPE TOWN, June 20- British millionaire businessman Shrien Dewani will go on trial for the murder of his Swedish bride on October 6 if a psychiatric panel finds him mentally fit, a South African court ruled Friday.

Dewani, who made a brief appearance in Cape Town’s high court after his extradition from Britain, has been ordered to undergo the same type of assessment as South African Paralympian Oscar Pistorius, who is also on a murder charge.

Prosecutors applied for the 30 day assessment by a panel of experts after receiving two conflicting psychiatric reports on Dewani’s mental readiness for trial, the court was told.

Defence lawyer Francois van Zyl did not oppose the application and told Western Cape High Court judge John Hlophe he had “no doubt he (Dewani) will be fit to plead and the trial will be able to go ahead”.

Dewani denies ordering the killing of his 28 year old bride Anni in Cape Town in November 2010.

He claims the couple were hijacked at gunpoint during their honeymoon as they drove through the Gugulethu township in a taxi.

Dewani escaped unharmed, but his wife’s body was found in the abandoned car the next day. She had been shot dead.

Prosecutors allege Dewani hired a South African, Xolile Mngeni, to kill his spouse. Mngeni was jailed for life for the murder in December 2012.

Dewani, who returned to Britain shortly after Anni’s murder, fought extradition for three years, claiming he had mental health problems including depression and post-traumatic stress.

If he is not found fit to face trial within 18 months, he will be returned to Britain under the terms of his extradition.

Dewani was remanded in custody at Valkenberg hospital in Cape Town, where he will be examined by the panel of experts.


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