On 8 December 2014 a court in South Africa dismissed the case against Shrien Dewani, who was accused of arranging the murder of his wife Anni in South Africa on their honeymoon in November 2010. Judge Jeanette Traverso said the evidence presented by the prosecution fell “far below the threshold” of what a reasonable court could convict on.
Dewani was extradited to face trial from the UK earlier this year after a lengthy legal battle. In light of the decision to stop his trial at this point many will question whether he should have been extradited to stand trial at all.
In fact, his extradition proceedings were not focussed on the evidence he might face but rather on his own fragile mental state and the conditions of detention he might face in South Africa.
South Africa is one of many countries that the UK does not require to show any evidence of the offence itself prior to extradition. The countries that are not required to demonstrate a prima facie case are listed below:
Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia FYR, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, Romania, Serbia, South Africa, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States of America.
There are some circumstances where a complete lack of evidence may be relevant to an abuse of process or political motivation argument but the general rule is that in extraditions to all the above countries there is no requirement for a requesting state to demonstrate a prima facie case.