British millionaire businessman Shrien Dewani has appeared briefly in a South African court, where his lawyers successfully argued he was not yet fit to stand trial for the murder of his Swedish bride.
Dewani, 34, wearing a dark suit and tie, glanced nervously around in the dock on Monday as his lawyers said psychiatrists had told them Dewani had been co-operative but lacked the ability to concentrate for any length of time.
“I am informed that he has been fully co-operative and that his condition has improved,” lawyer Francois van Zyl told the court.
“We have been told by treating psychiatrists not to consult with him for longer than 30 minutes at a time.”
He said they hoped further improvement would mean that Dewani would be able to “instruct us properly”.
The judge president of the Western Cape high Court, John Hlope, ordered Dewani to appear in court again on June 20.
He was remanded in custody at the Valkenberg psychiatric hospital, where he has been receiving treatment since being extradited from Britain last month.
Dewani, who returned to Britain shortly after his wife’s murder, had fought his extradition for three years, claiming he had mental health problems including depression and post-traumatic stress.
If he is not found fit to face trial within 18 months, he will be returned to Britain under the terms of his extradition.
Dewani denies ordering the killing of his 28-year-old bride Anni in Cape Town in November 2010.
He claims the couple were hijacked at gunpoint during their honeymoon as they drove through the Gugulethu township in a taxi.
Dewani escaped unharmed, but his wife’s body was found in the abandoned car the next day. She had been shot dead.
Prosecutors allege Dewani hired South African Xolile Mngeni to kill Anni. Mngeni was jailed for life for the murder in December 2012.
Two other men also jailed over the killing allege that Dewani ordered the hit.
The prosecution is expected to argue that Dewani is gay and plotted to have his wife killed to escape an arranged marriage that he was pushed into by his family.
The South African Sunday Times quoted sources close to the investigation as saying that one of the prosecution’s main witnesses would be a “master” in sado-masochism from Britain who will claim that Dewani paid him for sex.
The case sparked outrage among South Africans who accuse Dewani of callously using the country’s reputation for violent crime to murder his wife in the belief that he would get away with it.