London - Shrien Dewani could be returned to South Africa in 28 days after losing his latest and most important legal case against extradition in London.
Dewani, 33, was not in the high court on Monday to hear three judges dismiss an appeal against his return and reject an application to review the case in the supreme court, Britain’s highest court.
The decision effectively blocks any future legal moves in the UK, although Dewani could still appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. But that is a lengthy process and he could run out of time to lodge an application.
Dewani has spent nearly three years fighting extradition, launching countless appeals in the magistrate’s court and London High Court despite his representatives saying he is keen to return to South Africa to clear his name.
He is remanded in hospital in his home city of Bristol, where he is receiving treatment for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
However, he is regularly allowed to return home to his family.
Dewani has consistently denied involvement in the death of his new bride, Anni, 28, who was shot dead in the back of their taxi during a supposed hijacking in Gugulethu, Cape Town, in November 2010. He is accused of orchestrating the hold-up for which three men have been convicted in Cape Town and imprisoned.
Western Cape prosecutors Rodney de Kock and Adrian Mopp were in court in London on Monday to hear the panel of judges headed by the lord chief justice, Lord Thomas, reject Dewani’s counsel’s application. After the decision, De Kock said he was “satisfied” with the decision.
Anni’s father, Vinod, flew in from Sweden to hear proceedings. He and other family members sat on a bench behind Dewani’s brother and father.
In refusing the appeal, Thomas told the court: “The provisions of the Extradition Act are designed to ensure extradition is a speedy process. I therefore pronounce today: Any period that is applicable under the relevant legislation will run from today.” This meant that Dewani had only 28 days from on Monday to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, and not the extra time his lawyers were hoping for.
Last week, Anand Doobay, an extradition lawyer at Peters & Peters in London and a member of the Extradition Lawyers’ Association, said the European court route was a complicated and slow process.
“These interim measures are only granted in exceptional circumstances and the applicant would normally have to prove that their extradition posed a risk to their life or health,” said Doobay.
“It’s entirely possible that this risk could apply in any country, but it’s rare.”
Independent Foreign Service