South African judge throws out Shrien Dewani’s murder case


A judge has dismissed the case against Shrien Dewani, who was accused of arranging the murder of his wife Anni in South Africa.

Judge Jeanette Traverso said the evidence presented by the prosecution fell “far below the threshold” of what a reasonable court could convict on.

She said the evidence of the prosecution’s main witness, taxi driver Zola Tongo, was “riddled with contradictions” and “highly debatable”.

Dewani will now be released.

Announcing her ruling, the judge said: “The accused is found not guilty of this charge.”

She said the only reason not to grant the application would be in the hope that Mr Dewani would implicate himself if he gave evidence. But to do so would be a “manifest misdirection”, she said.

Dewani, from Bristol, was extradited to South Africa this year to face trial accused of planning the murder of his wife in November 2010.

He listened intently as key evidence against him was criticised by the judge as she gave her ruling over almost three hours.

Mr Dewani, 34, went straight down to the cells to prepare for his release, following the decision, as his family embraced.

Mrs Dewani’s family, who had said it would it be a “nightmare” if the trial did not continue, immediately left the court room.

They bowed their heads amid shouting from the public gallery.

In a statement read outside the Western Cape High Court, the Hindocha family said: “We feel really, really sad because we have not heard the full story. Shrien lived a double life.”

Mrs Dewani’s brother, Anish Hindocha, had last week implored Mr Dewani to “tell the world what happened the night she died”.

But the judge ruled it was not necessary for him to give evidence, saying a defendant was entitled to be discharged if there was no possibility of conviction unless he entered the witness box and incriminated himself.

The judge said the evidence from the three criminals already convicted over Mrs Dewani’s murder was “so improbable, with so many mistakes, lies and inconsistencies you cannot see where the lies ended and the truth begins”.

Dewani, 34, has always denied plotting with others to murder his bride, who was found shot dead in the back of their taxi after the couple was hijacked during a late-night tour of a township.

Prosecutors said bisexual Dewani had long planned to get out of the relationship to Swedish-raised Anni, and arranged the attack in which he would escape unharmed and Anni would be killed.

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