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Verdict looms in Oscar Pistorius murder trial

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Oscar Pistorius will learn whether he has been found guilty of murder on September 11

Oscar Pistorius will learn whether he has been found guilty of murder on September 11

Reeva Steenkamp

Reeva Steenkamp

Oscar Pistorius reacting as he listened to state prosecutor summarise his evidence, during his court case, in Pretoria, South Africa, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014.

Oscar Pistorius reacting as he listened to state prosecutor summarise his evidence, during his court case, in Pretoria, South Africa, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014.

AP

June and Barry Steenkamp during the trial in the Pretoria High Court

June and Barry Steenkamp during the trial in the Pretoria High Court

Getty Images

Oscar Pistorius's family in the Pretoria High Court during his trial

Oscar Pistorius's family in the Pretoria High Court during his trial

Getty Images

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Oscar Pistorius will learn whether he has been found guilty of murder on September 11

Paralympian Oscar Pistorius faces the most anxious week of his life as he waits for a judge to deliver a verdict on his murder trial.

Judge Thokozile Masipa will rule on Thursday whether the double-amputee deliberately killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp when he shot her on Valentine's Day last year.

The 27-year-old denies murder, claiming he mistakenly shot Ms Steenkamp as he thought there was an intruder in his home in Pretoria.

The prosecution alleges South African Pistorius, once a national and international icon for reaching the pinnacle of sport, intentionally killed the law graduate and model after an argument.

His six month trial, which ended last month, gripped the nation and transfixed millions around the world.

If convicted of premeditated murder, the charge 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, or Judge Masipa could acquit him if she believes he only made a tragic error.

South Africa does not have trial by jury, with Judge Masipa - the second black woman to be appointed a high court judge in post-apartheid South Africa –  will return her verdict after examining more than 4,000 pages of evidence.

In the closing arguments, the prosecution made a final plea for the athlete to "face the consequences" of shooting his girlfriend dead through a locked toilet door, while his defence team argued he should be acquitted on grounds of self-defence.

"He knew there was a human being in the toilet. That's his evidence," chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the judge.

"His intention was to kill a human being. He's fired indiscriminately into that toilet. Then m'lady, he is guilty of murder. There must be consequences."

However Barry Roux, the chief defence lawyer, argued 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, Nicknamed the 'Blade Runner' after his carbon-fibre prosthetic running legs, had his lower legs amputated as a baby. Mr Roux claimed 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.

Online Editors