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Husband found not guilty over brutal hijack killing of new wife

A BRITISH businessman has been dramatically cleared of the murder of his honeymoon bride.

The case against Shrien Dewani was dismissed by a judge in South Africa who roundly condemned the evidence of the chief prosecution witness.

Giving the ruling in Cape Town, Judge Jeanette Traverso said cab driver Zola Tongo's claims about the murder of Anni Dewani were "riddled with contradictions" and "highly debatable".

The judge said the only reason not to grant the application would be in the hope that Dewani would implicate himself if he gave evidence .

But to do so would be a "manifest misdirection", she said

Dewani, who was extradited earlier this year to face trial accused of planning the murder of his wife in November 2010, listened intently as key evidence against him was criticised by the judge.

Dewani, who can now return to the UK a free man, breathed a large sigh of relief as Judge Traverso cleared him.

He heard the judge declare that the evidence from the three criminals already convicted over his bride's murder was "so improbable, with so many mistakes, lies and inconsistencies you cannot see where the lies ended and the truth begins".

She said the evidence of Tongo, who testified against Mr Dewani after entering a plea bargain, was "riddled with contradictions", while others had lied on oath.

Members of Dewani's family wept and embraced as the wealthy businessmen left the dock swiftly via the holding cells. Anni's family bowed their heads amid shouting from the public gallery.

Dewani (34) has always denied plotting with others to murder his bride, whose lifeless body was found in the back of a taxi in a rough township, on November 14, 2010.

Three men - Tongo, Mziwamadoda Qwabe and gunman Xolile Mngeni - have already been convicted for their part in Anni's murder, when the Dewanis' chauffeur-driven late-night tour of a township was hijacked.

Prosecutors said bisexual Mr Dewani had long planned to get out of the relationship and arranged the attack in which he would escape unharmed and Anni would be killed.

But Dewani's defence team said the case against him was weak.

RULING

The ruling brings to an end a four-year wait for Dewani and his family to clear his name - a battle which has included lengthy spells in mental health units, lurid allegations about his private life, and fighting extradition from the UK.

In a statement outside court, the family of Mrs Dewani (28) said: "We feel really, really sad because we have not heard the full story. Shrien lived a double life."

hnews@herald.ie


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