Shrien Dewani, the British millionaire accused of arranging the murder of his wife during their honeymoon, was cleared of all charges today by a South African judge. According to a BBC News report, Judge Jeanette Traverso threw out the case when it became clear prosecutors did not have enough evidence to convict Dewani.
Dewani, a businessman who was raised in Bristol, married Anni Hindocha in Mumbai, India on October 29, 2010. The couple left for their honeymoon soon after, landing in Cape Town on November 7. Days later the couple’s taxi was hijacked by two armed men in Gugulethu, a township just outside of Cape Town. Shrien claims that he was thrown out of the taxi and then contacted police. Anni Dewani was later found in the abandoned taxi, robbed and shot to death.
Later in November 2010 the two hijackers and the taxi driver were arrested in connection with the crime. Police then arrested a fourth suspect,revealed that they believe the hijacking and murder were planned, and requested that Dewani return to South Africa. The taxi driver, Zola Tongo, testified under a plea bargain that Dewani had paid him to arrange Anni’s murder.
Following a prolonged extradition battle Dewani was extradited to South Africa in April of this year. This morning he was cleared of five charges including conspiracy to commit kidnapping, robbery, and murder.
According to the BBC report, the prosecution’s case rested on the salacious story that Dewani is bisexual and often hired male prostitutes. The prosecution claimed that Dewani had planned his wife’s murder to escape an unhappy marriage.
Judge Traverso also took issue with the prosecution’s key witness, Tongo, saying that his testimony was “riddled with contradictions.”
Anni Dewani’s family, many of whom who attended the trial, told the BBC that they were disappointed in the ruling. During the extradition process they had supported Dewani’s extradition and had repeatedly said their motive was to find out what happened to Anni.