Thursday 22 March 2018

'You're lying': Oscar Pistorius grilled over gun incident a month before Reeva killing

Maria Tadeo

Oscar Pistorius was accused of lying in court as state prosecutor Gerrie Nel sought to demonstrate the athlete fired a gun at a restaurant and failed to take responsibility for it, his murder trial heard.

In his second day of cross-examination, Mr Nel referred to a shooting incident in which a gun went off at a Johannesburg restaurant in the presence of Pistorius and a group of friends.

Pistorius, who faces three separate firearm charges, told the court he did not pull the trigger when the gun went off, approximately a month before he shot and killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year.

"It is impossible to fire that gun without pulling the trigger," Mr Nel told the court, citing evidence given by the police ballistics expert Captain Chris Mangena, which the athlete's own legal team did not challenge.

Pistorius was passed the gun under a table at Tasha's Restaurant in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, by his friend Darren Fresco, who testified at the start of the trial. British Olympic sprinter Martyn Rooney and professional boxer Kevin Lerena were also present.

At the time, Mr Lerena told the court that Mr Fresco's gun fired into the floor as it was being passed under the table to Pistorius, who wanted to see it and was told it was "one up" - meaning that there was a bullet loaded into the chamber.

Today the athlete told Pretoria's High Court he didn't pull the trigger and insisted he took responsibility for the incident and offered to pay for damages caused on the restaurant's floor.

Continuing his ruthless line of questioning, Mr Nel said it was a "miracle" and challenged the athlete further: "Did that bother you? That it went off on its own? I put it to you, there is no other way that gun could have gone off than you pulling the trigger. You are lying."

Mr Nel also questioned Pistorius on a separate firearm charge against him after it emerged that the athlete had rounds of .38-calibre ammunition in a safe at his home without a licence. Pistorius pleaded not guilty to the charge and said it was his father's, Henke Pistorius, and not his.

The prosecutor said Pistorius's father had "refused" to make a statement to the police to clarify whether the ammunition belonged to him or not, adding "you just don't want to accept responsibility for anything, Mr Pistorius".

The incident forms the basis of one of three separate firearms charges which Pistorius is facing in his trial, in addition to murdering Ms Steenkamp after firing four shots through a locked toilet door in the early hours of 14 February.

Pistorius denies all the charges.

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