Oscar denies responsibility

2014-04-15 14:46
Oscar Pistorius in court. (Sapa)

Oscar Pistorius in court. (Sapa)

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Pretoria - Oscar Pistorius protested his innocence up to the close of his court testimony on Tuesday after prosecutor Gerrie Nel accused him of killing his girlfriend in cold blood.

"She was locked into the bathroom and you armed yourself with the sole purpose of shooting and killing her. That is what you did," Nel stated in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

Concluding his dogged cross-examination of Pistorius after five days, Nel asked the Paralympian athlete who, to his mind, should bear responsibility for the fact that he shot dead Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius responded: "I don't know my lady, I was scared... I believed that there was a threat on my life."

Nel demanded to know who should then take the blame.

Pistorius repeated that he did not know, prompting the prosecutor to ask: "Once again, we should not blame you for the fact that you shot her... Should we blame Reeva? She never told you she was going to the toilet... should we blame her?

"Should we blame the government? Who should we blame for the black talon round that ripped through her body?"

Nel said he would argue that the court should find that Pistorius's account of the shooting on Valentine's Day last year was "so improbable that it could not reasonably, possibly be true".

Pistorius risks a life sentence for murder, but has testified that though he believed there was a dangerous intruder hiding behind the locked door of the toilet cubicle in his home when he fired four shots through it, he did not intend to fire the shots that hit Steenkamp in the hip, arm and head.

Nel has remarked that this means the sprinter has changed his defence "from putative self-defence to involuntary action".

‘Terror and vulnerability’

Pistorius lawyer Barry Roux returned to the issue of intention when he rose to re-examine his client briefly and asked whether he consciously pulled the trigger of his 9mm pistol.

Again Pistorius insisted: "As soon as I heard the noise, before I could think I pulled the trigger... I was overcome with a sense of terror and vulnerability."

He had told Nel that his panic was sparked by the sound of a wooden object moving.

He believed that this was the door opening but later realised it could only have been the magazine rack inside the toilet cubicle moving.

But Nel contends that Pistorius not only fired deliberately but shifted his aim to make sure that he hit Steenkamp after she fell backwards onto the magazine rack, betraying her position behind the door.

Pistorius denied that Steenkamp fell onto the rack, suggesting that the police had moved it after the fact - a recurring theme in his testimony.

But Nel said it was another instance of Pistorius tailoring his testimony.

"That magazine rack never moved. That was where she ended up, with her head on the toilet," Nel told Pistorius during cross-examination.

"This is getting more and more improbable and you are tailoring more and more."

He asked Pistorius on Tuesday why he moved through his house screaming while looking for

Steenkamp after the shooting, but stopped once he had broken down the toilet door and was holding her broken body.

"You have now seen her for the first time... your panic would have been at its greatest."

But Pistorius said: "The state of panic was not knowing."

Screaming

Nel said it was in fact Steenkamp who had screamed so loudly before the shooting that neighbours were alarmed.

"They heard Reeva's blood-curdling screams, they heard that when she escaped from you."

Pistorius denied this.

He largely retained his composure on the witness stand on Tuesday, after Nel repeatedly accused him of staging displays of distress and remorse whenever he struggled to answer questions.

To questioning from Roux, he revealed that Steenkamp had given him a Valentine's gift with a card in which she declared for the first time that she loved him.

Pistorius has told the court that he only opened the gift months after the shooting on 8 August last year, to mark Steenkamp's 30th birthday. However, the model was born on 19 August.

After he left the stand, Roux called Roger Dixon, a former senior police forensic expert, who told the court he had conducted sound and vision tests that contradicted testimony from Pistorius's neighbours.

They told the court they heard a woman's screams, followed by a volley of gunshots, and saw a shadow moving in his lit bathroom window.

- SAPA
Read more on:    gerrie nel  |  reeva steenkamp  |  oscar pistorius  |  barry roux  |  crime  |  pistorius trial
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