, CAPE TOWN, Nov 25 – British businessman Shrien Dewani will have to wait two weeks to see whether a South African judge throws out charges that he organised the murder of his bride on their honeymoon.
After hearing two days of argument on a defence bid to have the case dismissed, Western Cape High Court judge Jeannette Traverso said on Tuesday she would give her decision on December 8.
Dewani’s lawyers had applied for his discharge at the end of the state’s case, arguing that the evidence against him was so weak he should be acquitted without even having to mount a defence.
Dewani, 34, is accused of organising the murder of his 28-year-old Swedish bride Anni during their honeymoon in South Africa in November 2010.
Prosecutors say he hired hitmen to kill her in a staged hijacking because he is a gay man who felt trapped into marriage by family pressures. Dewani says he is bisexual and loved Anni.
The driver of the hijacked taxi and one of the hijackers – both serving long jail terms for the murder – testified that Dewani hired them for 15,000 rand (Sh123,000) to kill his wife.
Dewani’s lawyer, Francois van Zyl, argued that their evidence was full of contradictions and “cannot safely be relied upon”.
According to South Africa’s Criminal Procedure Act, an accused can be declared not guilty at the close of the prosecution’s case if the court feels there is insufficient evidence to show he or she committed the crime.
Dewani returned to Britain within days of the murder and fought a three-year legal battle to avoid being extradited to South Africa, claiming he had mental health problems, including depression and post-traumatic stress.
But he was sent back to South Africa in April, where he was found fit to stand trial, and is being held at Cape Town’s Valkenberg hospital for the duration of the court hearing.