'Honeymoon murder' suspect extradited to South Africa

Shrien Dewani, seen here in in a photo dated December 12, 2010 has been extradited to face trial in Cape Town.

Story highlights

  • Murder suspect Shrien Dewani extradited from UK to face trial in South Africa
  • Dewani has resisted extradition for the past three years on the grounds of mental health
  • He is accused of orchestrating his new wife's death in Cape Town in November 2010
  • Until he stands trial, Dewani will likely be held in a notorious secure psychiatric facility in the city

The British businessman accused of ordering a hit on his new wife while on honeymoon in South Africa will appear in a Cape Town court on Tuesday.

Shrien Dewani was returned to the country Monday by UK officials. He denies murdering Anni Dewani, 28, in November 2010 in Cape Town.

He has avoided extradition for the past three years on mental health grounds, but upon losing his latest appeal, British authorities have agreed to return him to South Africa to stand trial.

The extradition request was approved on the proviso that if Dewani was not fit to stand trial in the next 18 months, he will be returned to the United Kingdom.

Dewani left from Bristol Airport Monday night, according to a statement issued by London's Metropolitan Police, and is set to arrive in South Africa on Tuesday morning, local time. He is accompanied by "representatives from the South African authorities," and will be taken directly to court to be formally charged when he lands. The court is due to sit at 11:30 am (local time), a few hours after he lands.

Dewani, a millionaire care home owner, is accused of hiring a crew of hitmen to kill his wife during a taxi ride in Cape Town in November 2010, just over two weeks after their wedding.

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Taxi driver Zola Tongo confessed within weeks of the bride's death that he had hired two men to kill her.

In a plea deal with South African authorities, he said he was paid by Dewani to carry out the hit and to make it look as though the two were the victims of a carjacking as they were driving through a township on the edge of Cape Town. Tongo was subsequently sentenced to 18 years in prison for his part in the killing. His two accomplices are also serving lengthy sentences for their part in the killing.

In their ruling, the judges at the High Court in London said there was some prospect that Dewani could recover sufficiently to be fit to stand trial. He has been apparently suffering from mental health conditions, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Until his extradition, he had been held at Fromeside Hospital, a secure mental health unit in Bristol.

Upon arrival in South Africa, he is likely to be transferred to the bleak, prison-like Valkenberg hospital, a high security psychiatric facility in Cape Town.

The family of the victim has welcomed the ruling. Speaking at a news conference, her brother, Anish Hindocha said, "It's been very difficult. There is no life in our family any more, we struggle very much. With the help of the South African people, with the help of the British people, we are at least trying to cope... we need justice for Anni"