Monday 18 December 2017

Stubborn prosecutor zones in on his prey

State prosecutor Gerrie Nel during cross questioning of Oscar Pistorius, in court in Pretoria
State prosecutor Gerrie Nel during cross questioning of Oscar Pistorius, in court in Pretoria

Christopher Spillane

TEMPERS ran high in the packed Pretoria courtroom as the prosecution went for the jugular of fallen Olympic hero Oscar Pistorius.

At one point, Judge Thokozile Masipa had to intervene to order Gerrie Nel to stop calling him a liar.

"Mind your language," she warned Nel. "You don't call the witness a liar, not while he is in the witness box."

It will ultimately fall to Judge Masipa to give the final judgment in the case, which started on March 3, because South Africa doesn't have a jury system.

The prosecution has sought to undermine defence lawyer Barry Roux's portrayal of Pistorius as a religious man with a deep fear of crime who was in a loving relationship with Steenkamp.

Mr Nel asked why, if he had been a victim of crime, he had never reported the incidents to the police.

Yesterday, Pistorius repeated that he fired four hollow-point bullets at the cubicle door accidentally, while later saying he shot the pistol because he thought his life was in danger.

Judge Masipa could consider a lesser charge of culpable homicide if she rules there wasn't an intent to kill.

"I did not fire deliberately, I fired the gun out of fear that someone was coming out of the bathroom," said Pistorius, who looked away from Nel during the cross-examination. "I heard a noise and I fired. It was an accident."

Despite warnings from the bench, Nel was determined to go after his prey.

He zoned in on Pistorius.

"This is the biggest example of you tailoring your evidence," Nel said.

Pistorius denied that he was fabricating a story.

Irish Independent

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