A British businessman accused of orchestrating the murder of his bride during their honeymoon in Cape Town should be extradited to South Africa to face trial, a judge ruled on Wednesday.
Lawyers for Shrien Dewani, who has suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder since the 2010 killing of his Swedish wife, Anni, had argued that his mental health is too fragile.
However, at a hearing at a London court, which was packed with Anni’s relatives, judge Howard Riddle ruled that Dewani was well enough to be extradited.
“It is not in question that Shrien Dewani will be returned to South Africa,” Riddle told Westminster Magistrates’ Court. “The treating clinicians continue to state that Mr Dewani will recover. It may be a long time before Mr Dewani is fit to plead, but he may be closer to that point.”
He added that Dewani, who is being treated at a psychiatric hospital, could receive further treatment in South Africa and be found fit for trial later.
Dewani’s lawyers intend to appeal, a family spokesman said immediately after the ruling.
Anni Dewani, who like her husband was of Indian origin, was shot dead in a township outside Cape Town in November 2010 when the couple’s car was apparently hijacked.
Dewani denies any involvement in the killing.
A South African man, Xolile Mngeni, was jailed for life for the murder in December last year. Two other local men jailed over the killing allege that Dewani ordered the hit.
South African authorities have been seeking Dewani’s extradition since December 2010. He was arrested in Britain and released on bail, but British courts have delayed the extradition until now on the grounds of Dewani’s serious mental illness.
South African authorities welcomed Wednesday’s ruling.
“It’s great news. It’s been a long struggle to try and get the last person to stand trial for the Dewani murder,” said Bulelwa Makeke, spokeswoman for the National Prosecuting Authority.
“We wait for him to actually present himself in South Africa and then we’ll take it from there,” she added.