Tuesday, January 4, 2011

DEWANI: Family fears Shrien will not have a fair trial


Dewani murder case: We fear husband won't get a fair trial say family

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Shrien Dewani is accused of murdering his wife Anni in South Africa

The family of Shrien Dewani, the millionaire from Bristol accused of organising his wife's murder, fears he would not receive a fair trial in South Africa.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Dewani's cousin Akta Raja questions the role of Cape Town's most senior judge in the investigation into Anni Dewani's murder on honeymoon.
Miss Raja writes: "There are no jury trials in South Africa, remember.

"Naturally, you (Mr Dewani) cannot compute being tried at all, and you fear the potential weaknesses of judge-only proceedings, particularly as a UK national – an outsider – whose treatment by the South African police and the media has already been prejudicial.

"Your (Mr Dewani's) fears deepen when you hear that Judge John Hlophe, who sentenced your driver and who may preside over any trial, is a controversial figure. Are you sure you will be treated fairly?"

She adds: "Do you think you (Mr Dewani) – an innocent man who needs psychiatric treatment for bereavement, not incarceration – would survive at all, in Pollsmoor, Cape Town's notorious prison for defendants awaiting trial?"

Mr Dewani, 31, is next due to appear in a British court for a preliminary extradition hearing on January 20.

His lawyers will argue there is no proper evidence against him and that his case will be prejudiced in South Africa, where trials are conducted by a judge without a jury.

Britain's controversial extradition laws are currently under review amid fears they give little protection to British citizens who face politically-motivated trials abroad.

The Dewani family believes the businessman, who owns a number of care homes, is being accused of orchestrating the killing in a staged carjacking to protect South Africa's lucrative tourism industry.

Of the extradition laws, Miss Raja writes: "If Shrien Dewani is extradited to South Africa, it is our moral duty to ensure he is treated humanely, and as an innocent man. The British Government should work tirelessly to ensure this. Imagine you were Shrien.

"You should not have to set foot in a South African jail pending any trial.

"And you should be assured of justice, including a judge whose reputation is beyond question."