Judge: Evidence that Shrien Dewani is gay or bisexual ‘doesn’t matter’
The judge in the Shrien Dewani trial has said it “doesn’t matter” if there is evidence that he is gay or bisexual, and questioned whether his sexuality had any impact on whether or not he was guilty.
Judge Jeanette Traverso said it “doesn’t matter” whether he identifies as gay or bisexual, and that “many, many people” had questioned their sexual orientation, but that did not make them guilty of murder.
Prosecutor Adrian Mopp had intended to have explicit emails allegedly between Dewani and an unnamed man read out in court, but the evidence was thrown out by Judge Traverso.
The 33 emails had been “recovered” by Mark Roberts, an IT expert from the British National Crime Agency, reports the Telegraph.
It is expected that the state prosecutors will say Dewani was gay or bisexual, and that he wanted to get out of his marriage because of that.
Care home owner Dewani was in 2011 extradited from the UK to face trial for conspiracy to commit kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, murder, kidnapping and defeating the ends of justice. Prior to that, he was treated in hospital for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
He last Monday appeared for the first time at Western Cape High Court, as reporters described a passionate opening statement by the defence, and admitted having had sex with men for the first time, saying he identified as bisexual.
Other testimony said Dewani describe himself as “gay” on a gay dating site.
The trial is expected to last two months.
On Wednesday, one of two men already convicted of killing Anni Dewani told the court that he was hired by Shrien Dewani.
The court last week heard Dewani’s account of the events leading up to his wife’s death. He said they were held at gunpoint by two men who made taxi driver Zola Tongo get out of the car. He said he was then forced to climb out of the car window, and the men sped off with his wife, before she was found dead a day later.
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Leopold Leisser,a German male prostitute who is based in the UK, has also alleged that Dewani paid him for sex on several occasions, and in previous testimony said Dewani told him he “needed to find a way out” of the marriage.
Dewani has always denied paying three men to kill Anni following their £200,000 Mumbai wedding. Prosecutors argue that he conspired with Zola Tongo, Mziwamadoda Qwabe and Xolile Mngeni, in a plan to murder Mrs Dewani.
The three are already serving jail terms in connection with the murder.
Tongo was originally sentenced to 18 years in jail for his part in the death. His sentence was reduced from 25 years after he implicated the British businessman in the killing.
Jeanette Traverso, a senior judge will be responsible for Dewani’s sentencing. There is no jury system in South Africa. Dewani told Judge Traverso: “I plead not guilty to all five counts, my lady.”
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