Oct 22 2013
Lawyers acting for honeymoon murder suspect Shrien Dewani return to court today in the latest round of a legal battle against extradition.
A panel of three judges - headed by the Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas - will hear applications at the High Court in London on behalf of the businessman.
The hearing is the latest move in a bid to prevent him being sent to South Africa to face trial over his wife's death until he has recovered from mental health problems.
His lawyers have stressed at various hearings that he will be willing to defend himself at trial once he is fit to do so.
In July, Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle ruled at Westminster Magistrates' Court that Dewani should be extradited and rejected his attempt to stay in the UK for further hospital treatment.
He said Dewani, from Bristol, was still not fit to plead or stand trial at present, but there was evidence that he would receive the care he needed in South Africa.
Judge Riddle had originally given the go-ahead to Dewani's extradition in 2011 but had to reconsider the position after two senior High Court judges allowed an appeal in March last year.
They were told Dewani was suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Sir John Thomas, president of the Queen's Bench Division - who has since become the Lord Chief Justice - and Mr Justice Ouseley, said it would be "unjust and oppressive" to remove him until he recovered - but it was plainly in the interests of justice that he was extradited as soon as he was fit.
After the ruling in July a spokesman for Dewani's family said his lawyers intended to appeal against Judge Riddle's extradition decision.
His defence team had argued that he could suffer setbacks in his mental health if sent back now - they submitted that the decision should be delayed by six months.
Part of the proceedings today relate to an application by Dewani's lawyers for the judges to certify that the case raises "a point of law of general public importance" for consideration by the Supreme Court, the UK's highest court.
Dewani is suspected of ordering the killing of his new wife Anni, 28, who was shot as the couple travelled in a taxi on the outskirts of Cape Town in November 2010.
So far three men have been convicted over Mrs Dewani's death.
Last year South African Xolile Mngeni was convicted of premeditated murder for shooting her. Prosecutors claimed that he was a hitman hired by Dewani to kill his wife, something that Dewani has consistently denied.
Taxi driver Zola Tongo was jailed for 18 years after he admitted his part in the killing, and another accomplice, Mziwamadoda Qwabe, also pleaded guilty to murder and was handed a 25-year prison sentence.
Dewani's family have said that he remains committed to returning to South Africa "when his health would permit a full trial and when appropriate protections are in place for his health and safety".