1. ITV Report

Dewani's sexuality ruled not relevant

Shrien Dewani in court. Photo: ITV News

Evidence relating to the sexuality of Bristol businessman Shrien Dewani has been ruled inadmissible to his murder trial by a judge.

Western Cape High Court deputy Judge President Jeannette Traverso said some e-mail communications between Dewani and an undisclosed man between June and August 2009 found on his dead wife Anni's laptop were "not relevant".

Prosecutor Adrian Mopp said the content of the emails showed Dewani - who is accused of plotting to murder his wife - was "conflicted" about whether to get married or not, the South African Press Association reported.

The prosecution argues that Dewani, 34, wanted out of the marriage and arranged a staged hijacking in which he escaped and Anni was killed.

Admissions previously released by the court disclosed that Dewani was logged in to gay sex and fetish websites within 48 hours of his wife's body being found in November 2010.

Dewani, from Westbury-on-Tryml, denies all five charges - murder, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, kidnapping and defeating the ends of justice.

Mr Mopp said Dewani had provided the court with a version of events around his sexuality and he wished to explore evidence around certain disclosures that were made in the e-mails.

The judge asked why his sexuality was relevant.

"Here we have a set of facts which, in isolation, may appear to be a rather strange set of facts," Mr Mopp replied.

He said the e-mails provided a context for these facts and referred to a liaison where certain disclosures were made and counselling given.

"It was apparent from the e-mails that the e-mails show he was conflicted about whether to get married or whether to come out," Mopp said.

"Obviously it is not a motive to kill but the man expresses a conflict within himself."

He said their principle submission was that this was relevant evidence.

In reply, Dewani's lawyer, Francois van Zyl said the e-mails provided graphic details about sexual preferences, what the men wished to do to each other and just two or three references to the conflict Mopp referred to.

"They clearly had a discussion on whether to come out. His advice from his friend is that commitment to marriage is a very serious commitment and he must think seriously about it," the lawyer said.

Shrien Dewani and wife Anni at their wedding. Credit: Police

Dewani sat in the dock nodding his head and listening carefully.

Mr van Zyl said the e-mails were highly prejudicial to his client because it involved his character, and the dates were too far out to have relevance.

Mr Mopp countered that he was going to explore evidence later that in September 2009, Dewani expressed a similar conflict to another witness they intended calling.

He wanted to prove that the courtship and relationship between Dewani and his wife was "not as plain-sailing" as he claimed.

Judge Traverso seemed unmoved and said that was not in dispute. She said his plea explanation had made clear both his sexuality and troubles within the relationship.

She delivered her ruling on the evidence after a short adjournment. "I have considered the arguments addressed to me. I rule the evidence inadmissible on the basis that it is not relevant," she said.

The courtroom sat in stunned silence. The accused's family smiled and looked at each other.

The trial continues on Monday.

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