Nel: I never called Oscar a liar, I said he was lying

2014-08-07 11:53
Chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel presents his final arguments during the Oscar Pistorius murder trial. (Werner Beukes, Pool)

Chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel presents his final arguments during the Oscar Pistorius murder trial. (Werner Beukes, Pool)

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Pretoria - Prosecutor Gerrie Nel on Thursday denied ever calling murder-accused Oscar Pistorius a liar while he cross-examined the athlete in the North Gauteng High Court.

"I never called him a liar, I said he was lying," said Nel in his closing arguments.

The defence's arguments state that Pistorius was compromised as a witness and was called a liar by the State on numerous occasions.

Explaining what happened, Nel said he went back into all the trial records and said it happened once. He said he was reprimanded by the court but never called Pistorius a liar and just said he was lying.

Nel argued that the defence's admission that Pistorius was compromised in the witness box showed he was not a good witness.

Pistorius is charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year. He has denied guilt, saying he thought she was an intruder.

Tailored evidence

On Thursday, Nel said Pistorius tailored his evidence from his initial statement to when he was on the stand.

It had become "fashionable" in court cases that when an accused was in a "quandary" they blamed the State.

Quoting from a previous case Nel said: "The State is not obliged to play chess against him or herself."

It was not the function of a prosecutor to call witnesses who would help the defence, especially not in cases where the accused had a defence team.

The State could not be blamed for calling other witnesses.

Probabilities

Dealing with the legal principles in the case, Nel said the court should consider the probabilities in the State's case.

"The court should apply itself to the merits and demerits of witnesses but also to the probabilities of the case," he said.

"We say in this trial if the weight of each piece of circumstantial evidence... is piled on a scale... the scale will convincingly balance in favour of the State. I argue that the court must reject the accused's version."

Occasionally Steenkamp's family and friends, seated in the front row of the public gallery, looked over to the athlete. His own family, including sister Aimee and father Henke, were seated behind him.

Screams

Earlier, Nel said Pistorius's lawyers failed to prove that his screams sounded like a woman's when he was nervous.

Nel said the defence had put to witnesses that decibel tests were done which suggested that Pistorius's screams could be mistaken for a woman's.

"Why put it to a witness as a fact when you won't prove it later?" Nel said.

The sound expert the defence had called had instead contradicted their argument.

The expert had told the court he could not distinguish between the screams of a man and a woman in tests.

Some of Pistorius's neighbours have testified that they heard a woman's blood-curdling screams on the morning Steenkamp was shot.

The defence has submitted that Pistorius was the one screaming as he called out to Steenkamp to call for the police.

The court heard that a screaming Pistorius also broke down the toilet door using a cricket bat.

Sound tests

Nel focused on the tests the defence did to prove the difference between the firing of a gun and the sound of a cricket bat hitting a door.

Nel argued that the court could not accept the tests the defence had performed as they had digitally manipulated the sound of the gunfire to make it sound rapid.

An expert who performed the tests said this was done because the gun would not fire rapidly.

Rapid gunfire was the manner in which Pistorius claimed he fired the shots on the morning Steenkamp died.

"With the utmost respect, that was just dishonest," Nel said, referring to the sound manipulation.

"The court should not take that."

Presiding Judge Thokozile Masipa also pointed out that the tests were done outside in an open area while the actual incident occurred indoors.

Shots

Nel told the court that in all his statements Pistorius had admitted to firing intentionally at the bathroom door.

"I fired shots at the door and shouted to Reeva to call the police," Nel read from Pistorius's statement.

In another statement Pistorius said: "I thought they were coming out and before I knew it, I fired four shots."

Nel said that in none of the statements did Pistorius say the shooting was accidental, nor had he ever said he did not know what happened.

He said Pistorius had time to think before acting and this was clearly indicated in his statements.

The trial continues.

Read more on:    gerrie nel  |  reeva steenkamp  |  oscar pistorius  |  pistorius trial

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