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UK court halts extradition of honeymoon killing suspect

By the CNN Wire Staff
March 30, 2012 -- Updated 1500 GMT (2300 HKT)
Shrien Dewani is accused of hiring hitmen to kill his wife during the couple's honeymooon in South Africa, last November.
Shrien Dewani is accused of hiring hitmen to kill his wife during the couple's honeymooon in South Africa, last November.
  • He cannot be sent to South Africa on mental health grounds, High Court rules
  • Shrien Dewani is accused of hiring a crew of hitmen to kill his wife in South Africa
  • He has post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, the court hears
  • The judges say he should still be extradited to face trial when he recovers

London (CNN) -- The extradition of honeymoon killing suspect Shrien Dewani to South Africa was temporarily halted Friday on mental health grounds, the High Court in London said.

Dewani is accused of hiring a crew of hitmen to kill his wife, Anni Dewani, 28, during a taxi ride in Cape Town, South Africa, while they were on honeymoon in 2010.

The businessman, from Bristol, has said his wife was the victim of a carjacking and denies any involvement in the killing.

British Home Secretary Theresa May ordered Dewani's extradition in September, but he appealed to the High Court, saying it would breach his human rights under European law.

His appeal was based on "the effect of his extradition on his mental illness and the lack of facilities for its treatment, but also on the high risk of HIV/AIDS infection and attack, particularly sexual violence, from other inmates," according to the High Court.

The court heard from psychiatric experts that Dewani was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression and was considered to have tried to take his own life early last year.

2011: Bridegroom accused in murder plot

The judges' ruling said, "In our view, the medical evidence as to the unusual combination of PTSD and depression to such a severe degree and the appellant's other conditions was clear that extradition would present a real and significant risk to the life of the appellant."

However, Dewani should be extradited to face criminal proceedings in South Africa once he recovers, which seems likely to happen in a reasonable time, the ruling said.

"His mental illness apart, it is plainly in the interests of justice that the appellant be tried in South Africa as soon as he is fit to be tried," it said.

The judges dismissed the argument relating to the risk of sexual violence and HIV/AIDS infection after hearing from experts on the South African prison system.

CNN's Laura Perez Maestro contributed to this report.

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