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Millionaire accused of paying for wife's murder denied bail

Case against Shrien Dewani 'based on testimony of self-confessed robbers and murderers desperate to get their sentences cut' says barrister.
Shrien Dewani is accused of ordering the murder of his bride, Anni, while they were on honeymoon in South Africa.
Shrien Dewani is accused of ordering the murder of his bride, Anni, while they were on honeymoon in South Africa.

LONDON // Lawyers for a millionaire British businessman accused of arranging to have his bride murdered on their honeymoon will go to court today in a bid to get him freed on bail.

Shrien Dewani was arrested at his parents' home in Bristol earlier this week after one of the men who took part in last month's murder of 28-year-old Anni Dewani in South Africa claimed that her new husband organised and paid for the killing.

Mr Dewani was taken into custody on a South African extradition warrant and appeared before a judge in London on Wednesday, where he was granted bail on a £250,000 (Dh1.4 million) surety.

However, lawyers for South African prosecutors lodged documents opposing bail, which meant Mr Dewani, 30, had to remain in jail. His legal team is now preparing an appeal to the High Court in London today.

Mrs Dewani was shot dead after the taxi that was taking the couple through the Gugulethu township in Cape Town was carjacked by two men at gunpoint.

The vehicle was driven off with Mrs Dewani still inside after her husband and the driver, Robert Zola Tongo, had been bundled out. She was later found, shot through the neck, in the abandoned taxi.

Tongo stunned a Cape Town courtroom this week when he accused Mr Dewani, who had married his wife in a lavish, three-day celebration in Mumbai at the end of October, of paying him and the other two killers 15,000 rand (Dh7,950) each to carry out the killing.

In return for this revelation, which was part of a plea bargain, Tongo's 25-year sentence was reduced by seven years.

A spokesman for Mr Dewani, who owns several care homes for the elderly in the Bristol area, has described Tongo's claims as "ludicrous".

Mr Dewani told reporters before his arrest: "Saying I was somehow involved defies logic. Anni wasn't on any life insurance policies and we hadn't even made a will.

"I had no motive, financial or otherwise. I loved her and I still love her."

However, a report in The Sun newspaper yesterday said that Mr Dewani had been recorded on CCTV handing over money to Tongo in a Cape Town hotel several days after his wife's death. South African authorities have refused to comment on the report.

Mrs Dewani, whose parents had grown rich from selling heavy duty electrical equipment in Sweden after they had been expelled from Uganda in Idi Amin's purge of Asians in 1972, had met Mr Dewani 15 months before their marriage.

Mr Dewani's own parents had flourished in the property market after emigrating from India. The newlyweds had planned to live in a £3.6m home that Mr Dewani and his brother own in London.

Clare Montgomery, Mr Dewani's barrister, who lodged today's appeal to get him freed on bail, said yesterday that the case against him was "flimsy" and based on testimony of self-confessed robbers and murderers desperate to get their sentences cut.

dsapsted@thenational.ae

Published: December 10, 2010 04:00 AM

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