Sunday 4 December 2016

Oscar Pistorius did not give 'true version' at trial, Reeva's cousin tells sentencing hearing

Published 15/06/2016 | 10:41

Oscar Pistorius reacts during the third day of his resentencing hearing for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa June 15, 2016
Oscar Pistorius reacts during the third day of his resentencing hearing for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa June 15, 2016

Convicted murderer Oscar Pistorius did not give the "true version" during trial evidence of how he killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in South Africa in 2013, a cousin of Ms Steenkamp has said at the sentencing hearing for the double-amputee Olympian.

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The cousin, Kim Martin, also criticised Pistorius for not testifying at the sentencing hearing but agreeing to an ITV television interview that will be broadcast after the hearing ends this week.

"I think it's very unfair to want to talk to the world about your version when you had the opportunity in court to do so," Ms Martin said under questioning from chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel.

Pistorius, who was in court on Wednesday, is currently under house arrest after initially serving one year of a five-year prison sentence for manslaughter for shooting Ms Steenkamp. That conviction was overturned last year by an appeals court, which convicted Pistorius of the more serious charge of murder.

Read More: Pistorius ‘must pay for murder of my daughter’

Judge Thokozile Masipa, who initially acquitted Pistorius of murder, will decide the new sentence. The hearing is scheduled to run through to Friday this week. South Africa has a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison for murder, although a judge can reduce that in some circumstances.

In her evidence, Ms Martin said she and her family are struggling to cope with Ms Steenkamp's death and that every Valentine's Day - the day when Ms Steenkamp was fatally shot - is the "worst day for us".

Ms Martin said her family lights a candle for Ms Steenkamp, a model, at Christmas and that they try to celebrate such special days despite the grief.

"We don't want every occasion to become a funeral," she said.

Ms Martin also questioned Pistorius's statement that he killed Ms Steenkamp by mistake when he fired shots through the door of a toilet cubicle in his home, thinking an intruder was in the house.

"I don't feel the true version came out," Ms Martin said.

In a statement earlier this month, Pistorius's uncle, Arnold Pistorius, said the family had declined many requests for interviews with the former track star out of respect for the legal process. He said he agreed to ITV's request in an effort to dispel what he described as the many inaccuracies and speculations that had arisen.

"I decided it was necessary to take up one media offer that would provide our family with a voice to address some of the misconceptions that have remained unchallenged," Arnold Pistorius said.

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