Man accused of hiring hitmen to kill his wife during their honeymoon

CNN Wire Service

A British businessman who is accused of having his wife killed during their honeymoon in South Africa will be allowed to leave jail on bail, a judge decided Friday.

Shrien Dewani is accused of hiring a crew of hitmen to kill his wife during a taxi ride in Cape Town, South Africa in November.

British Judge Duncan Ousely rejected concerns from the South African government that Dewani would use his funds and international connections to flee before an extradition hearing.

Ben Watson, a lawyer for the South African government, cited hotel surveillance video that he said showed Dewani twice meeting with a cab driver as the sort of evidence indicating Dewani’s involvement in a plot against his wife.

But Ousely ruled that Dewani, who did not attend the hearing, had a genuine interest in clearing his name and said he has cooperated with investigators from both England and South Africa.

Dewali’s solicitor, Andrew Katzen, said he was “delighted” with the outcome but declined further comment following the court hearing.

Dewani, who is jailed in London’s Wandsworth Prison, will be allowed to stay at his parents’ home. He will be required to report to a police station in Bristol every morning.

A court hearing has been temporarily scheduled for Jan. 20, but it is unclear when South Africa will submit a formal extradition request.

Dewani’s lawyers say he is innocent and will fight extradition.

Dewani’s wife, Anni Dewani, died in an apparent carjacking as the couple took a taxi ride in a crime-ridden neighborhood of Cape Town. Dewani was allowed to leave South Africa, but this week prosecutors there accused him of hiring a crew of hitmen to kill his wife.

“The alleged hijacking was in fact not a hijacking, but part of a plan of subterfuge which Shrien Dewani, the husband of the deceased and the accused, had designed to conceal the true facts … that the deceased was murdered at the instance of the husband,” South African prosecutors wrote in court documents.

In the documents, prosecutors detail meetings that Dewani had with the taxicab driver where where he allegedly paid the driver 15,000 South African rand — $2,170 — to have a crew of hitmen kill his wife and make it look like a carjacking.

The court documents do not say why Dewani allegedly wanted his wife dead.

The driver, Zola Tongo, was sentenced to 18 years in prison in South Africa after admitting to taking part in the killing.