Honeymoon murder suspect Shrien Dewani’s mental health has improved and he has talked about returning to South Africa to fight the case against him, a court heard yesterday.
• Mental health of murder suspect Shrien Dewani is improving, a court has heard
• Dewani has talked about returning to South Africa to face trial for murder of wife Anni
The 33-year-old is accused of orchestrating the murder of his wife Anni, who was shot on the outskirts of Cape Town in November 2010.
He is facing extradition to go on trial in South Africa over her killing, in which he denies any involvement.
Opening the case for the country’s government at Westminster Magistrates’ Court yesterday, Hugo Keith QC said Dewani’s post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression had improved, and his risk of suicide had lessened.
The businessman, who was excused from attending the hearing, is being treated for the conditions in a psychiatric hospital near Bristol.
Mr Keith said: “Our case is not that it would be oppressive to extradite him.
“We suggest that there has been significant and sustained improvement [in his depression], largely as a result of the administration of drugs, but also due to the grounding techniques and coping therapies which he has acquired.”
His depression is now moderate, not severe, and in April his PTSD was found to be “considerably less” and is now moderate or severe, rather than severe.
He still has a substantial inability to concentrate and poor memory, the court heard, but he no longer makes active references to suicide.
Mr Keith added: “There are more positive observations about how he wishes to return to fight the case against him.”
The South African government has offered reassurances that he will be admitted to hospital if he is found to be ill, and if remanded in jail will be kept in a single cell, which will reduce the chance of being attacked, the court heard.
The court heard that Dewani is not fit to plead, but Mr Keith said this should not stop the extradition process because his condition will improve.
Ms Dewani’s father Vinod Hindocha, sister Ami Denborg and brother Anish Hindocha were watching from the public gallery with other relatives as the five-day extradition hearing began.
Dewani was excused from attending the hearing but his father Prakash and brother Preyen were at the court.
His lawyers have previously claimed he would be a high suicide risk if extradited, and that his human rights could be violated due to the risk of being violently attacked and sexually assaulted in a South African prison, and potentially contracting HIV or Aids.
Dewani was ordered to return to the country in 2011, but this was successfully appealed against and judges ordered that Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle must look again at the case.
The hearing was adjourned until today.