LONDON – A British court granted bail on Friday to a newlywed accused of hiring a man to kill his bride during their honeymoon in South Africa.
British businessman Shrien Dewani is accused of arranging the murder of his wife, 28-year-old Anni, in Cape Town. The woman was found dead in the back of an abandoned taxi with a bullet wound in her neck on Nov. 13.
Authorities in South Africa want the 30-year-old British citizen extradited for a trial there, and objected to a lower British court's decision to grant Dewani bail — provided he wore an electronic tag and observed a curfew.
On Friday, Britain's High Court upheld that ruling, rejecting the South African government's arguments that a released Dewani may not appear at his extradition hearing later this month.
Dewani denies any involvement in the murder of his wife. The couple, both of Indian descent, had married in India two weeks before arriving in South Africa last month. He has said that their taxi was attacked by gunmen during a late-night tour of the impoverished Gugulethu township in Cape Town.
But South African authorities want to question him after taxi driver Zola Tongo told a Cape Town court that he was hired by the husband to kill his bride. Tongo said Dewani offered 15,000 rand ($2,187) for each person involved, but paid only 1,000 rand ($146).
Ben Watson, a lawyer for South African authorities, told British Judge Duncan Ouseley on Friday that new evidence — including closed-circuit footage showing Dewani allegedly obtaining black market money to fund the murder — indicates there is a powerful case against him.
But Ouseley said he did not believe Dewani would flee because he has no criminal convictions and that it would be difficult for him to escape, given the media attention devoted to the case.
Dewani's lawyer, Clare Montgomery, argued that the accusations were improbable, and the family of Dewani has dismissed them as "totally ludicrous."
The suspect was released from London's Wandsworth prison late Friday. He was ordered to pay a 250,000 pounds ($395,000) cash surety and observe strict bail conditions.
The case has drawn wide attention in Britain and South Africa, where violent crimes are common but attacks on foreign tourists are rare.