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Man orchestrated Indian-origin wife's murder allege SA police

world Updated: Dec 08, 2010 15:12 IST

Shrien Dewani, the British businessman whose Indian-origin wife was shot dead while the couple was on honeymoon in South Africa, has been arrested in Britain on suspicion of conspiring to murder her, a media report said on Wednesday. Police detained Dewani on behalf of South African authorities, the Daily Telegraph reported.

He surrendered at a Bristol police station and was arrested at 22.38 GMT Tuesday under a provisional arrest warrant issued earlier in the evening on suspicion of conspiring to murder Anni Dewani. Anni, a 28 year old engineering graduate of Ugandan-Indian descent from Sweden, was killed in Cape Town on Nov 13 this year when two men hijacked the car she and her Indian-origin British husband were travelling in.

Dewani, 30, is due to appear in custody at the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court on Wednesday. The businessman faces extradition to South Africa after prosecutors there claimed he had offered to pay 1,400 pounds to have his wife murdered, the report said. Dewani allegedly offered a taxi driver 1,400 pounds to arrange for his new wife, Anni, to be shot dead in a staged carjacking, according to claims outlined by a prosecutor in South Africa. Dewani, who owns a chain of care homes, dismissed the accusations as "ludicrous".

Dewani, from Bristol, and his bride were honeymooning in South Africa, following a "fairy tale" wedding in India. They were travelling through Gugulethu, which is one of Cape Town's most impoverished townships, when they were ambushed by two men who appeared to threaten their driver, Zola Tongo, and ordered him out of the car before ejecting Shrien too. Anni was found shot dead in the back of the car several hours later.

So far three men have been arrested in connection with the incident. Besides the 31-year-old driver, the other two are Xolile Mngeni, 23, and Mziwamadoda Qwabe, 25. In a dramatic twist in the case,on Tuesday prosecutors in South Africa accepted a signed confession from Tongo that was agreed as part of a plea bargain deal in which he admitted murder, aggravated robbery and kidnapping. Rodney de Kock, the Western Cape Director of Public Prosecutions, said Shrien had orchestrated the murder.

Reading a confession signed by Tongo, de Kock outlined how Shrien allegedly offered the driver 15,000 rand (about 1,400 pounds) to plan and carry out the "hit". "The hijacking would be simulated," the confession claims. "The agreement was that after the 'hijacking' of the vehicle, both Shrien Dewani and I would be ejected from the vehicle unharmed, after which Anni would be murdered. The kidnapping and robbery were part of the plan to make it appear that this was a random criminal act, unconnected to Shrien Dewani."

However, de Kock has not been able to offer any evidence to support the allegations other than the signed confession and no suggestion of a possible motive. As part of the deal, Tongo will give evidence at the trials of Mngeni and Qwabe. Tongo alleges he helped recruit them to carry out the carjacking. Shrien's spokesman, Max Clifford, described the allegations as "outrageous". He said South African police had ignored Shrien's requests for information about the claims against him.