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Acquittal and appeal in Dewani and Pistorius murder trials

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There have been new developments this week with two prominent South African murder trials. One accused murderer is acquitted while the other faces an appeal.

After fighting extradition for three years, British businessman Shrien Dewani was cleared of his wife’s murder in a South African courtroom on Monday. He flew back to his home in the UK the following day.

Shrien Dewani had been accused of hiring hit-men to murder his new bride, Anni Hindocha, while they were on their honeymoon in South Africa in November 2010. Anni Hindocha’s death originally appeared to be the tragic result of a carjacking gone wrong when she was shot in the neck. However, the robbers later claimed that Dewani had hired them to kill her. During the investigation it was also revealed that Dewani was actively involved with male hustlers.

At the onset of his trial in Cape Town, Dewani declared himself bi-sexual and confirmed that he had used male prostitutes, something he had previously denied through his now disgraced public relations representative Max Clifford. Once a celebrity himself, Clifford has since been jailed for eight years in Britain for sexually abusing four female teenagers.”

It appeared to be an open and shut case, until two days ago. The crux of the prosecutor’s case rested on one star witness, Zola Tongo, who received a reduced sentence for his testimony. This resulted in his statements being taken with “caution” by the judge. This combined with “ . . .evidence . . .‘riddled with contradictions’, a murder investigation botched by police and a premier league defence lawyer who outmanoeuvred the prosecution at every turn,” led to Dewani being acquitted.

However, Dewani’s legal problems are far from over, “Anni’s family said after the acquittal that they planned to sue Dewani, saying she would never have married him if she had known about ‘his secret sex life with male prostitutes.'”

Dewani returned home to a flurry of book publishers, movie producers and news reporters all offering lucrative advances for his story probably being vetted by his current public relations firm. The family of the murder victim, Anni Hindocha, have spent sleepless nights wondering what really happened.

Shrien Dewani’s family returned home to find their house vandalized and his family’s healthcare business under fire by the government for negligence. Dewani’s company, PSP Healthcare “ . . .has been lashed by UK authorities for putting patient safety at risk.”

In another high profile murder case, the judge in the Oscar Pistorius trial has opened the door for prosecutors to challenge his earlier controversial conviction of culpable homicide.

Judge Thokozile Masipa, who convicted Pistorius and sentenced him to five years in jail, acknowledged that chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel had raised legitimate “questions of law” that should be studied by the appeals court.”

Oscar Pistorius, the paraolympian who shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp to death on February 14, 2013, now faces a possible murder conviction with a minimum 15-year sentence.

Although he confessed to murdering his girlfriend, last October he was given the lighter verdict of manslaughter.

Pistorius was acquitted by Judge Masipa of both premeditated murder and the lesser murder charge of dolus eventualis, also known as common-law murder.

In South African law, this charge applies if the accused knew they might kill someone but still went ahead with their course of action.

Pistorius is serving the sentence in the hospital wing of Pretoria’s Kgosi Mampuru II prison.

The appeal is likely to be heard next year.”

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