CAPE TOWN: In an explosive opening to his long-awaited trial Monday, British millionaire Shrien Dewani pleaded not guilty to murdering his young bride while on honeymoon in Cape Town but admitted having paid male prostitutes for sex.
Dewani told the High Court in a written statement that he considered himself to be bisexual — a pre-emptive strike against possible prosecution plans to portray him as a gay man trapped in an arranged marriage which he ended by hiring hitmen to kill his wife.
Glancing nervously around court and clad in a sombre suit and tie, Dewani told the court he was “not guilty” of charges of murder, kidnapping and obstructing justice.
He fought a three-year legal battle to avoid being extradited from Britain to South Africa, claiming he had mental health problems, including depression and post-traumatic stress.
But he was sent back to South Africa in April, where he was found fit to stand trial for the murder of his Swedish-born bride Anni (nee Hindocha), who was shot dead on November 13, 2010, aged 28.
In a statement read by defence layer Francois van Zyl, Dewani said he was bisexual but was “instantly physically attracted” to Anni and came to love her.
Dewani claims that he and his bride were hijacked at gunpoint as they drove through Cape Town’s impoverished Gugulethu township in a taxi.
Dewani escaped unharmed, but his wife’s body was found in the abandoned car the next day.