Wednesday 25 April 2018

Pistorius must wait for a month on verdict in epic trial

Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius gestures during his trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Reuters
Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius gestures during his trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Reuters
Oscar Pistorius leaves the court in Pretoria. AP
Reeva Steenkamp
Reeva Steenkamp: Pistorius' former girlfriend
Oscar Pistorius and his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in Johannesburg in February 2013

Aislinn Laing

It has lasted more than four months, heard the testimony of 37 witnesses and vies for the title of celebrity murder trial of the century. But the closing of the main part of the Oscar Pistorius trial arrived yesterday with little drama.

After asking for an adjournment overnight, Barry Roux, the athlete's barrister, returned to tell the judge he had nothing further to add other than to confirm the final dates for when defence and prosecution will each deliver their closing arguments.

With that, the lawyers packed up their briefcases, exchanged words with their preferred journalists and left. Even the departure of the world's most famous defendant was uneventful.

The 27-year-old normally leaves the court each day with a phalanx of burly cousins acting as bodyguards to shield him from the crush of cameras and onlookers. Yesterday, he slipped out accompanied only by his brother Carl.

For the athlete and the family of Reeva Steenkamp, the 29-year-old girlfriend he shot dead through a locked lavatory door on Valentine's Day last year, there remains an anxious wait.

Gerrie Nel, the prosecutor, has five people who heard a woman scream in fear of her life before the fatal gun shots rang out.

They have phone messages showing that Ms Steenkamp feared her boyfriend's temper and complained that he picked on her "incessantly".

They have the state ballistics expert who told how the shots hit Steenkamp in the hip, arm and head, giving her time to scream out and identify herself before she died.

They have unflattering testimony from an ex-girlfriend and a former friend.

For the defence, Barry Roux has embarrassed the state by delving into shoddy police handling of the case, showing how one officer picked up the alleged murder weapon without gloves, another stole a designer watch from the scene and another walked over the door through which Ms Steenkamp was shot.

He has called psychiatrists, doctors and colleagues who have revealed how behind the world's most famous Paralympic champion was a terrified young man who trembled at the noise of fireworks and grabbed his gun when he feared an intruder was in his home because he could not run away.

The trial resumes on August 7 when the two will go head to head one last time with their closing arguments. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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