Honeymoon murder suspect Shrien Dewani is not ”hiding from justice” and is ”absolutely determined” to clear his name, his family insisted today.
The businessman, 31, has been fighting extradition to South Africa but did not appear at his latest court hearing in London due to ”ill health”.
He is currently on bail after being arrested on suspicion of conspiring to murder his wife Anni, 28, who was shot in Cape Town in November in an apparent bungled robbery.
But Dewani knows he must clear his name to avoid living the rest of his life ”under a cloud of suspicion”, his family say.
However, they insist steps must be taken to ensure his rights are protected and he receives a fair trial.
Their fears were fuelled last week when the country’s chief of police said he was ”completely illiterate” in legal matters.
Dewani’s supporters say he missed his last court hearing because he is so ill through stress that he cannot even visit his local shops – let alone go to South Africa.
A family spokesman said: ”Our biggest challenge is to find the right legal pathway to resolve these issues, but he can’t just jump on a plane and go back to South Africa.
”What would happen if he were to be put in custody and then the matter was only dealt with in a year’s time?
”We need to make sure that Shrien’s rights are protected and substantial assurances need to be obtained. He is a British citizen.
”There are a number of things that we need to consider and no options have been ruled out.
”But the only thing that is certain is that Shrien is absolutely determined to clear his name as he is innocent. He will not live the rest of his life under a cloud of suspicion.”
Two of the accused in the case have already alleged that they have been beaten and tortured into confessing while in custody.
The spokesman added: ”Ultimately, defeating extradition may not resolve the truth but the reason he is not consenting to extradition at present is that he is genuinely not fit and well to return to South Africa and has serious concerns over the handling of the case.
”Nothing has been ruled out and we are taking legal advice on the best way to clear his name whilst having regard to his safety and security.
”But there are still serious concerns that we need to address, not least the astounding revelations from the chief of police who last week said that he is completely legally illiterate.”
Shrien, who runs PSP Healthcare with dad Prakash and brother Preyen, has repeatedly denied allegations he paid driver Zola Tongo #1,300 to organise Anni’s murder.
He will appear in a London court next Thursday where a judge will decide whether there is enough evidence for him to be sent to South Africa to be tried for her death.
His friends and family fear he will be killed if he is extradited – either inside or outside prison – as they claim he has been framed as a conspiracy to protect tourism in South Africa.
The spokesman added: ”Shrien is genuinely not well and suffering and unable to go out to the local shops.
”Even going to the police station is a hugely traumatic experience for him. He genuinely has experienced an immense tragedy, of having a gun held to his head and then losing his wife.
”As he says, ‘I am a widower at the age of 30. How many people do you know who are widowers at the age of 30?’
”But he is determined that he will clear his name. He can’t live the rest of his life with people raising accusations.”