'Trial by media' fears in Pistorius case

2013-06-04 14:28
Oscar Pistorius leaves the Pretoria Magistrate's Court after appearing for the first time since being freed on bail in February over the killing of Reeva Steenkamp. (Alexander Joe, AFP)

Oscar Pistorius leaves the Pretoria Magistrate's Court after appearing for the first time since being freed on bail in February over the killing of Reeva Steenkamp. (Alexander Joe, AFP)

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Oscar Pistorius case postponed

2013-06-04 14:35

Watch the footage from inside the Pretoria Magistrate's Court where Oscar Pistorius appeared on Tuesday. The murder case against him was postponed to 19 August.WATCH

Pretoria - Paralympian Oscar Pistorius's murder case was postponed to 19 August 2013 on Tuesday with scant new information on the investigation, amid concerns about a "trial by media".

"Mr Pistorius, the matter against you has been postponed for further investigation," acting magistrate Daniel Thulare told the athlete.

"Yes your honour", replied Pistorius, clean-shaven in a suit and light blue shirt.

Pistorius was charged with premeditated murder after his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead in his Pretoria home on 14 February 2013.

During a bail hearing in February, Pistorius's defence read out a statement in which he said he thought Steenkamp was an intruder. He has been on bail since 22 February, with some of the conditions amended since then.

Birthday

It would have been Steenkamp's 30th birthday on 19 August - the postponement date.

Pistorius agreed to abide by his previous bail conditions, and when court adjourned, he kissed family, which included his brother Carl, sister Aimee and uncle Arnold.

As the court adjourned, reporters and photographers surged after him as a group of bodyguards and at least 10 policemen led him out of the court.

He was whisked away in a silver Fortuner SUV, which had been idling on the busy Francis Baard Street adjacent to the court entrance.

Some journalists fell in the ensuing push and shove to get closer.

During the application, prosecutor Andrea Johnson announced that no details of the investigation would be revealed to the court and would only say the State needed more time to investigate.

This was by agreement with Pistorius's defence.

Pistorius's counsel Barry Roux stood up and confirmed this.

Johnson said the attention generated by Steenkamp's murder was not something the prosecution or the State could control, and felt his rights should not be overridden.

She said Pistorius had the right to be treated like any other person.

Leaks

Thulare expressed concern about a "trial by media" and asked the State to investigate how information related to the case had come into the public domain.

He did not say exactly which information, but last Friday images purportedly showing the scene where Steenkamp was shot dead were posted on the Sky News website.

A photograph shows blood on a toilet seat, and a pool of blood on the floor. Bullet holes in the bathroom door are marked with tape, and a panel near the door handle is taped-up.

"It's important that we invite our colleagues from around the world to respect the republic's processes," said Thulare.

The Constitution was important and needed to be respected.

He wanted this done so that it did not have a "negative impact on the South African judicial system, or scandalise it".

Thulare asked anyone with information pertaining to any case to approach the National Prosecution Authority (NPA), via the police.

Speaking outside the court, NPA spokesperson Medupe Simasiku said the investigation was at a sensitive stage, but would not be prejudiced by the publishing of crime scene photos in the media.

"I am not prepared to comment regarding the leak that we don’t know of. We don’t have knowledge of any leaks. We believe that whatever is out there is not part of the system."

The evidence collected by police at the crime scene was adequately secured. In the event that evidence was leaked, firm action would be taken.

"Should there be anything which affects the progress of the case, we will deal with it accordingly. We are not in a position to make statements on something which is not there yet."

He said the NPA would not be taking action against Sky News.

 

- SAPA
Read more on:    npa  |  oscar pistorius  |  reeva steenkamp
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