London | British-Indian millionaire Shrien Dewani returned to the UK today after being cleared by a court of plotting the murder of his Indo-Swedish bride during their honeymoon in South Africa where he was extradited to face trial.
Dewani, 34, left the Gatwick Airport through a side entrance that was guarded by police before being driven away this morning. He flew to the UK via Dubai from Cape Town. He was extradited in April for facing trial for arranging the murder of his 28-year-old wife Anni Hindocha, who was kidnapped and killed during their honeymoon near Cape Town in 2010.
Western Cape High Court Deputy Judge Jeanette Traverso threw out the case on Monday after ruling that the assertion that the bisexual care home boss from Bristol had arranged the killing was flawed and described evidence from a key prosecution witness as riddled with contradictions. Armed police officers were on guard at the airport to prevent reporters from approaching the exit used by Dewani.
He was accused of hiring three men — taxi driver Zola Tongo, Mziwamadoda Qwabe and Xolile Mngeni — to kill Anni. Mngeni was sentenced to life in prison for the murder but died in jail. Qwabe was sentenced to 25 years. Tongo was sentenced to 18 years following a plea bargain deal. Dewani lost a four-year legal battle in the UK to avoid extradition to South Africa, and was sent in April this year to stand trial.
Dewani has always denied plotting to arrange the shooting of his bride in the back of their taxi while on honeymoon. His wife’s family is now considering whether to him in the UK. They have said that the decision has left many questions unanswered as it meant Dewani, who led a double life visiting male prostitutes in the months before he married, would not have to give evidence or face cross-examination. Anni’s uncle Ashok Hindocha said they would make a decision on legal action after the Christmas holiday.
Judge Traverso ruled it was not necessary for Dewani to give evidence as a defendant was entitled to be discharged if there was no possibility of conviction unless he entered the witness box and incriminated himself. She said claims by the chief prosecution witness, cab driver Tongo, about the murder were also highly debatable and the evidence from the prosecution was far below the required threshold.
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