SAHRC dismisses complaint against Gerrie Nel

2014-04-15 15:05

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A complaint against prosecutor Gerrie Nel regarding the way he cross-examined Oscar Pistorius has been rejected, the SA Human Rights Commission said.

“The commission noted that the court had duly exercised its authority in the course of ongoing proceedings before it,” the commission said today.

“The witness was represented and a right of recourse was available through the courts to take steps should this be appropriate.”

The complainant, Jan Landman, asked the commission to probe the manner in which Nel conducted his cross-examination of Pistorius.

Landman, a former commissioner of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities, requested that the SA Human Rights Commission investigate and rule whether Nel was permitted to refer to Pistorius as a “liar” as he cross-examined him.

Landman said it was his opinion that in calling Pistorius a liar, Nel infringed on his right to a fair trial.

He claimed Nel further contravened Pistorius’ right to be presumed innocent and his right to freedom of expression, and to ensure his dignity was respected and protected.

The commission said its powers in such matters are informed by a statute that did not allow it to investigate matters being heard before other judicial tribunals and forums, including the courts, unless the matter concerned processes.

“The commission is satisfied that adequate protections are in place at the level of the court process and specifically for the witness and has decided not to pursue this matter further.”

The commission urged the public to remain respectful of the authority of the court and the rights of commentators to expression.

“The public is reminded of the need to limit undue circulation of graphic material presented in court out of respect to the deceased and her family,” the commission said.

The Paralympian has been charged with murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

He shot her dead through a locked toilet door at his Pretoria home on Valentine’s Day last year.

He says he mistook her for an intruder. He has pleaded not guilty to murder.

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