Thursday 23 October 2014

Pistorius trial verdict next month

Published 08/08/2014 | 09:25

Oscar Pistorius will learn whether he has been found guilty of murder on September 11
Oscar Pistorius admits shooting his girlfriend by mistake

The judge in the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius has announced she will deliver her verdict on September 11.

Judge Thokozile Masipa confirmed the date after the prosecution and defence teams today ended their final arguments in the murder case against the double-amputee, who shot dead girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year.

Pistorius said he mistakenly shot Ms Steenkamp, thinking there was an intruder in his home. The prosecution alleges the Olympic runner intentionally killed her after an argument.

"The accused intended to kill a human being," chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel said. "There must be consequences."

Mr Nel has urged the judge to dismiss Pistorius's entire story as an elaborate lie and to convict him of premeditated murder, a charge that carries a sentence of at least 25 years and up to life in prison.

Pistorius could also be convicted of a lesser murder charge or negligent killing, both of which call for years in jail. Judge Masipa could acquit him if she believes he only made a tragic error.

Barry Roux, the chief defence lawyer, said Pistorius's disability had made him particularly vulnerable and anxious about crime over the years, comparing him to a victim of abuse who kills an abuser after a long period of suffering.

Pistorius had his lower legs amputated as a baby, and Mr Roux argued that the athlete's long-held fear of being attacked with the disability played a central role in an accidental killing.

Pistorius pleaded not guilty to murder and three separate firearm charges. Mr Roux, however, conceded that he was guilty in one of those firearm charges, of negligently firing a gun in a public place in an incident in a restaurant weeks before the killing.

Prosecutors have used those firearm charges to paint Pistorius as a hothead who was obsessed with guns, not the vulnerable figure his defence puts forward.

South Africa does not have trial by jury, the judge will decide on the verdict.

Press Association

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