Oscar Pistorius tense as judgment looms

2014-09-07 10:38
Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock during the testimony of a defence witness at his murder trial at the high court in Pretoria. (Alon Skuy, AFP)

Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock during the testimony of a defence witness at his murder trial at the high court in Pretoria. (Alon Skuy, AFP)

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Cape Town - Paralympian Oscar Pistorius is clearly showing signs of stress after he reportedly lost his cool with journalists, outside his uncle’s house in Waterkloof, Pretoria, only days ahead of judgment.

According to the Sunday Times, Pistorius, who was charged with murder following the fatal shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year, was asked by Sunday Times journalists last week how he was coping.

Exploding in anger Pistorius asked how journalists could ask him he was coping. He could not believe that the media had the audacity to ask him. He said he could not deal with it right now.

It also emerged last week that Pistorius has now sold off most of the properties he owned. His Silver Woods Country Estate home, where Steenkamp was shot, was sold recently for R4.5m. Two other houses in Weeping Willow Estates in Equestria, Pretoria, were each sold for about R1m.

The sale of these properties has fuelled speculation that he is raising the cash for further legal fees in the event of being found guilty, reports the Sunday Times.

As reported last month by News24, closing arguments were wrapped up in the trial that has at times provided six months of gripping courtroom drama that transfixed millions around the world.

Presiding Judge Thokozile Masipa then retired with her two assessors, to review more than 4 000 pages of evidence before arriving at a decision on the central charge of premeditated murder. The verdict is expected to be delivered on Thursday.

If convicted of premeditated murder, Pistorius faces a mandatory life sentence, meaning he will be behind bars for 25 years before he can be considered for parole.

Masipa can also convict Pistorius of murder but without explicit premeditation, a lesser crime that still carries up to 20 years in jail. The sentence can be reduced on presentation of "substantial and compelling" circumstances.

If Masipa is not convinced of Pistorius's intent to kill, he could still be jailed for culpable homicide based on negligent or reckless discharge of his 9mm pistol into the toilet door.

Culpable homicide carries a maximum of 15 years behind bars.

Alternatively, Masipa could accept Pistorius's primary argument of “putative self-defence” - meaning that he fired into the door because he genuinely believed his life to be in danger from a perceived intruder - and acquit him.

In addition to the murder charge, Pistorius is accused of three lesser weapons offences: One count of illegal possession of ammunition and two counts of discharging a firearm in a public place.

These charges carry up to five years in prison, although in most instances are punishable by a fine.
Read more on:    reeva steenkamp  |  oscar pistorius  |  pistorius trial

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