S.Africa prosecutor says husband plotted honeymoon murder

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A British businessman plotted to have his Swedish bride murdered on their honeymoon in South Africa, it was alleged in court on Tuesday, in a sensational twist to an apparent robbery and shooting.

Anni Dewani, 28, was shot dead after the taxi in which she was travelling with her husband Shrien Dewani, was hijacked on the outskirts of Cape Town on November 13, just weeks after their marriage.

Her body was later found in an impoverished township neighbourhood.

Dewani, who returned to Britain days after the incident in which he was unharmed, has denied any involvement.

Three men were originally charged with the murder but as part of a plea bargain the High Court in Cape Town heard one of the accused allege that the victim's husband had ordered the killing.

"The deceased was murdered at the instance of her husband," Western Cape director of public prosecutions Rodney de Kock told Judge President John Hlophe in court, national news agency SAPA reported.

A judicial spokesman refused to say if Dewani, who accompanied his wife's body back to Britain, would be charged.

The claim that the husband plotted the murder was made by Zola Tongo, the driver of the taxi in which the couple had been travelling in Cape Town.

Tongo was sentenced to 18 years in jail on Tuesday after pleading guilty to murder and aggravated robbery.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Eric Ntabazalila told AFP that Tongo had given evidence that he was approached by the British businessman and promised 15,000 rand (2,175 dollars) "to remove someone from the scene."

Tongo, who gave evidence under a plea bargain deal with the state, then enlisted two accomplices to carry out the murder, according to Ntabazalila who would not discuss if the murdered bride's husband would face charges.

"That is part of a different investigation. I cannot comment on that, police would have to to act on that," Ntabazalila said.

The two other men accused of Dewani's killing are due to face trial on February 25.

Prior to the killing, the honeymooners had dined in a seaside restaurant in a town outside Cape Town and were on their way back to the city when Anni Dewani allegedly asked to see township nightlife, reports said.

The murdered bride was also robbed of a Giorgio Armani wristwatch, a white gold and diamond bracelet, a handbag and a Blackberry phone, the charge sheet stated.

Since returning to Britain, Shrien Dewani has enlisted the help of the renowned publicist Max Clifford.

© 2010 AFP

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