LONDON – A British businessman accused of arranging his bride's murder while on their honeymoon was put on a plane to South Africa on Monday after losing a three-year battle against being extradited to face trial.
South African authorities allege that Shrien Dewani took out a contract on his wife’s life almost immediately upon the couple’s arrival in the country in November 2010 to celebrate their marriage. Anni Dewani, 28, was shot dead and her husband thrown out of their taxi in an apparent carjacking outside Cape Town.
Three men have already been tried and convicted for their roles in the slaying, including the gunman and the cabdriver, who alleged that Dewani paid him $1,500 to set up and carry out the killing.
Dewani, 34, has consistently denied any involvement in his wife’s death, and independent observers have noted contradictions in the testimony of the cabbie. Dewani has remained in Britain under treatment for depression and post-traumatic stress order, which his lawyer says makes him unfit to stand trial despite agreement by the British government in 2011 to extradite him to South Africa.
Dewani’s attorney has also appealed against extradition on the grounds that his client would not receive a fair trial, an argument rejected by South African prosecutors. Last month, at the end of an appeals process lasting three years, a British court upheld Dewani’s extradition, clearing the way for him to be sent to South Africa on Monday.
He was handed over by British police to South African authorities at the Bristol airport in southwestern England for the flight to Cape Town, Scotland Yard said.
“We were extremely surprised that it took such a long time,” Ashok Hindocha, Anni Dewani’s uncle, said, describing the wait as “torture.”
“Everybody wants to know what happened to Anni.... Why did she die?” he said. “There are three people pointing finger[s] at the husband. He’s a suspect. He has a lot of questions to answer. We need those answers so we can move on.”
Upon his arrival in Cape Town on Tuesday, Dewani is expected to make an immediate appearance at a court hearing and will then be checked into a psychiatric hospital.
The killing of Anni Dewani and the subsequent investigation sparked international headlines. Video of the couple’s wedding and from the hotel where they stayed in South Africa appeared to show a happy, handsome, loving couple. But within two weeks of their marriage, Anni Dewani was dead of a gunshot wound to the neck.
“The whole world will be watching this case,” Anish Hindocha, the slain woman’s brother, told the BBC. “And I am sure we will get a fair trial in South Africa.”