Sign in to comment!

Menu
Home

Europe

Honeymoon murder suspect hospitalized in UK

The British man accused of having his wife murdered during their honeymoon in South Africa has been hospitalized in southwestern England, a spokesman said Tuesday.

Shrien Dewani was taken to the Bristol Royal Infirmary on Sunday afternoon, his spokesman Max Clifford said. Dewani earlier had been diagnosed with an acute stress disorder, but the cause of the 31-year-old British businessman's hospitalization was not disclosed. His health has been of increasing concern to his family, Clifford said.

South African prosecutors accuse Dewani of hiring three hit men to kill his wife, Anni. She was found dead in an abandoned taxi in Cape Town with a bullet wound in her neck on Nov. 13.

Dewani and his late wife, both of Indian descent, had married in India two weeks before arriving in South Africa for their honeymoon.

Prosecutors haven't said what could have motivated such a crime, but the case has drawn widespread attention in Britain and South Africa, where violent crimes are common but attacks on foreign tourists are rare.

Dewani claims their vehicle was attacked by gunmen during a late-night tour of an impoverished neighborhood. Their cab driver, Zola Tongo, was sentenced to 18 years in prison after a confession implicating Dewani and two other South Africans.

Dewani is currently out on bail fighting extradition to South Africa. He missed a recent hearing after he was judged unfit to attend court.

Describing his client's health as "very fragile," Clifford said Dewani has not been sleeping or eating much but hopefully will be released from hospital in the next few days.

"The trauma of what happened in South Africa and the nightmare of the accusations that have come at him have made a dreadful situation even worse and more traumatic for him," Clifford said. "Anybody could understand why his health is in the dreadful state that it is."

South Africa's Justice Ministry said it was aware of the hospitalization but that it was too soon to say whether the developments would delay extradition proceedings. "It is absolutely in the hands of the court," said Justice Ministry spokesman Tlali Tlali.

Defense lawyers plan to fight extradition on the ground of Dewani's fragile physical and mental condition. They also claim he would not receive a fair trial in South Africa.

At a hearing on Feb. 8, Dewani's lawyer, Julian Knowles, said his client was suffering from "severe post traumatic stress disorder" and could not attend court.

Judge Howard Riddle said he expected Dewani to attend his next court hearing on March 22.

___

AP writer Donna Bryson contributed from South Africa.