Gerrie Nel: ‘You’re trying Mr Pistorius, but it’s not working’

2014-04-10 18:12

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State prosecutor Gerrie Nel today confirmed he was building a case that Oscar Pistorius had had an argument with Reeva Steenkamp and that she then “ran away screaming”.

This is the first time Nel has confirmed that the state believes Steenkamp and Pistorius had argued and that she then ran away from him in fear.

When Pistorius’ lawyer, Barry Roux, objected to this, Nel said the statement was based on circumstantial evidence that Steenkamp had been screaming.

“The one witness we wanted to call is dead,” responded Nel.

It was a difficult afternoon for Pistorius, with the athlete for the first time making some damaging concessions under withering cross-examination from Nel.

At various points, Nel accused the athlete of “lying”, of “adapting” his version and of refusing to concede to obvious questions.

Nel quizzed Pistorius on the events of the night Steenkamp was killed, including the athlete’s testimony that he’d been sleeping on the left side of the bed because of a shoulder injury.

“While you were walking from the left-hand side around the bed [to bring in the fans], you would have seen her?” asked Nel.

Pistorius responded that she might have got out at the foot of the bed or “rolled over onto my side of bed [the left side]”.

Nel then said, for the court to believe your version, “we must exclude the fact that she got out on the right-hand side of the bed?”

Pistorius conceded, saying he probably would have “sensed” her if she got out on this side of the bed, where the balcony and the fans also were.

He testified that he didn’t see Steenkamp when he woke up because he had his head in his hands, rubbing his face.

Pistorius said he also didn’t hear her because of the noise of the fans.

Nel then showed a photograph of the right side of the foot of the bed where the fans and the balcony were. It also shows the duvet lying on the floor.

In short order, Pistorius conceded that somebody would have had to have moved the duvet from the bed to the floor at some point.

The fan in the picture could also not have been placed where it was by Pistorius because one of its legs was on the sliding door’s rail.

The fan would have prevented the door from closing as Oscar testified he had done after bringing it in.

Pistorius also admitted that the curtains in the photo were pulled wide open and were not just slightly open.

Pistorius then repeated the defence’s argument, that objects must have been moved by the police.

“Let’s just sum this up. A policeman moved two fans, put the duvet on the floor and opened the curtains wider than it should be?” said Nel.

When Pistorius confirmed it, he said: “Is this one big conspiracy?”

Pistorius said he didn’t know why, but conceded that it could not have been to contradict his version because they did not know what his version was at the time the photos were taken.

“The fact is things were moved, we can go through this file and look at all the places ... photos were taken as if that was the way they were found,” said Pistorius.

Nel then asked Pistorius where he had originally placed the fan.

Pistorius pointed to a spot on the screen, but Nel immediately responded that the fan’s electrical cord would not have been long enough to reach there.

“That’s an assumption, the cord is more than long enough for the fan to move. We’re not talking 5m, we’re talking less than a metre” said Pistorius.

Nel responded: “You see, you keep trying, Mr Pistorius, it’s not working.”

“Your version is so improbable that nobody would ever think it’s reasonably possible.”

For the state to prove its case, it needs to show that Pistorius’ version is not reasonably possibly true.

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