Pistorius trial adjourned for 10 days

By Drum Digital
28 March 2014

Oscar Pistorius will not take the stand in his murder trial for at least another 10 days after the High Court in Pretoria on Friday adjourned to April 7.

"We cannot proceed this morning. One of my assessors is not well so this court is not properly constituted," Judge Thokozile Masipa told court room GD, which was packed in anticipation of the double amputee athlete's testimony. The ill assessor was Janette Henzen du Toit. Masipa proposed postponing the matter to the second week of April -- when the court would have been in recess. Neither prosecutor Gerrie Nel nor Barry Roux, for Pistorius, objected.

"We will make ourselves available to proceed with the matter on April 7," said Nel.

Brian Webber, a member of Pistorius's defence team, told reporters outside the court: "There is nothing we can do about it. We can just wait".

The State closed its case on Tuesday, after calling 21 witnesses, from a list of 107, in 15 days, including several neighbours of Pistorius.

They testified to hearing a woman's piercing screams followed by gunshots in the early morning of February 14 last year, when he shot dead his lover, 29-year-old model Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius's defence will commence on April 7, possibly with the Olympic athlete taking the stand as is customary in criminal cases.

But the large television audience following the trial will not get to see Pistorius's face when he sets out his version of the shooting in the early hours of Valentine's Day last year.

He has exercised an option taken by some State witnesses earlier in the trial to request that only his voice be broadcast while he testifies. The same will apply to all other witnesses called by the defence.

Earlier this week, Masipa granted Roux and his assistants a two-day adjournment to consult some of the witnesses on the State's original list of 107 to ascertain whether they would be prepared to testify for the defence.

The trial is set to continue until May 16.

Roux has, in cross-examination of the State witnesses, indicated that he plans to call independent forensic experts to dispute the testimony given by police investigators regarding the marks on the door through which Pistorius shot Steenkamp, then broke down with a collector's cricket bat.

The police contradicted Pistorius's submission that he was wearing his prosthetic legs when he forced open the door to gain access to his fatally wounded girlfriend.

Roux is also expected to submit the results of sound tests done in Pistorius's plush gated community in Pretoria to discredit neighbours' accounts of what they heard in the moments before Steenkamp died.

He has repeatedly made the claim that it was in fact his client who screamed in a high-pitched voice that could be mistaken for that of a woman.

Witnesses were adamant that they heard both a man and a woman shout.

The State contends Pistorius shot Steenkamp after an argument. Earlier this week it submitted transcripts of plaintive text messages Steenkamp sent her lover, saying she felt-ill treated and scared of his temper.

Pistorius has pleaded not guilty to murder and says he mistook her for a burglar hiding behind a locked toilet door.

-SAPA

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