Pistorius trial broadcast bid - as it happened

2014-02-19 10:17
Oscar Pistorius (File, AFP)

Oscar Pistorius (File, AFP)

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The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria will on Wednesday hear an application by media houses to broadcast the murder trial of Paralympian Oscar Pistorius.

The application has been brought by Multichoice, The Oscar Pistorius Trial Channel, eNCA and Eyewitness News.

The media houses also want permission to audio stream and take still photographs during the trial.

The National Prosecuting Authority on Tuesday said it would not oppose the application.

"We are not opposing the application," NPA spokesperson Nathi Mncube said.

Pistorius is accused of killing his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in February last year. His trial is expected to be heard in the High Court in Pretoria from 3 to 20 March.


14:40 - Judgement is reserved. We'll be back next Tuesday at 11:00 to hear decision. 

14:36 - Budlender on trial by media: would be in contempt of court if retired judge gives mock judgment. But there's are remedies. One is  is contempt of court, which is also dealt with in the BCCSA code. BCCSA can take away broadcaster's license if they contravene code.

14:32 - Budlender:10 years ago there was no Twitter or live blogs so Squires was faced with a choice: minimal or extensive coverage.This is no longer an option.

14:28 - Snyckers further argues: Whether people and experts get the court info by audio or writing, it won’t stop analysis.

14:27 - Mlambo concerned that panel of retired judges will be commenting on Pistorius trial panel.

14:23 - Oh, have you voted yet on whether you think the trial should be broadcast? Go to our homepage to vote.

14:22 - Snyckers: we don’t have a jury system, which democratises the justice system but we can involve the community in the trial by televising it.

14:16 - Snyckers: there’s no good reason why consenting witnesses should not be televised. Using expert witnesses for both sides as example, they should have no problem to be televised.

14:15 - Snyckers: Don't pull the plug in advance. If things get out of hand, trial judge can pull the plug.

14:14 - Snyckers: The extent of the analysis of the court proceedings has nothing to do with the medium.

14:13 - Snyckers: NPA's response is a compromise. They said: "we can live with this". (to record certain witnesses).

14:12 - Judge questions why NPA has changed its attitude towards the broadcast from opposing it to supporting it.

14:10 - Snyckers: broadcasting trials no longer a novelty. Mlambo: so context of Shaik trial different? Snykers: Absolutely.

14:07 - Snyckers: the world is a different world to (Judge Squires') world in 2004. Technology has changed.

14:06 -  Snyckers: This trial like no other; Pistorius legal team want to "order waves back into the sea" & undo digital developments.

14:05 - Snyckers on Roux questioning why this trial is special - the notion that this is just another trial is farcical, says Snyckers.

14:04 - Lawyer for Reeva Steenkamp's parents has told @eNCANews they don't want #OscarPistorius trial broadcast.

12:59 - Roux concludes. Now for rebuttal. But lunch adjournment first. Back at 14:00.

12:57 - Roux: We must be careful that we don't have a media trial and a criminal trial running simultaneously

12:54 - Judge Mlambo says because it has attracted both local and an international audience.

12:52 - Roux: we are not prepared to make concessions where it may impact on a fair trial.

12:51 - Roux: If the broadcast has a chance to make this trial unfair, then the Constitution says that should be the end of the matter.

12:51 - Roux: Does this mean that if you are a well known person, your rights can be infringed?

12:49 - Roux: Why can't this be like other trials? Why is this special? Because he ran fast around a track?

12:48 - Roux: there is real concern about witnesses tailoring evidence...it opens up winning recipe for unfair trial.

12:48 - Roux: Witnesses speak to each other, they will hear this is a difficult question and discuss it. It happens, I know.

12:47 - Roux says 140 characters are not the same as full broadcast of trial. Can't capture everything said and heard in Tweet.

12:46 -  Roux: It’s one thing for a journalist and gallery to listen to a witness, it’s another when the whole world is listening.

12:44 - Judge Mlambo: But what about Twitter? Journalists are right now busy reporting what you are saying.

12:44 - Roux: sometimes perception is more devastating than fact. Referring to future witnesses being able to listen to evidence.

12:41 -  Roux wants a blanket ban on witness testimony broadcast, but concedes on opening address, argument…

12:40 - Roux: How will witness be inhibited? Because the world is listening, a witness would be reluctant to concede a mistake.

12:38 - Roux: What we have is state witnesses and experts saying they will feel inhibited by a live broadcast.

12:37 - Roux says he contacted an advocate representing Reeva's parents. He had not been informed about NPA broadcast agreement.

12:35 - Roux: The NPA previously stated that the broadcast could result in unfair trial. That cannot be undone.

12:34 - Roux quotes prosecutor Gerrie Nel in an affidavit - Nel says he has consulted with all the witnesses and Reeva’s parents are all reluctant and objected to live broadcast of the proceedings.

12:32 - Roux questions why the NPA isn’t here - "what they say demonstrates how unfair it would be to grant relief".

12:32 - Roux challenges the assertion from Snyckers that the NPA is the custodian of the criminal justice system.

12:29 - Roux says it is a "primary purpose" for "proceedings, criminal proceedings, not camera proceedings" to be fair.

12:28 - After 3 advocates argue for broadcast, Pistorius's advocate Barry Roux has a chance to respond.

12:17 - Ferreira: A restriction on the ability of print media constitutes a limitation of right of freedom of expression.

12:11 - Advocate Nick Ferreira arguing for print media. They want two still cameras in court to take photos of proceedings.

12:10 - Budlender: It is implausible that expert witnesses will be intimidated. "Expert witnesses" referring to international practice where trials are televised. He concludes.

12:05 - Budlender: Oscar claims that TV broadcasts will distract witnesses, cause witnesses not to testify and inhibit him in his testimony.

12:03 - Budlender: Has Mr Pistorius demonstrated that his rights demand a greater media restriction than the conditions agreed to by NPA? We say no.

12:00 - Budlender: The only party that objects to this relief is Oscar Pistorius.

11:56 - Budlender says defence lawyers need to show a real possibility of prejudice to him to show trial should not be broadcast.

11:54 - Budlender: The court must ask whether there is a real risk of prejudice - not merely conjecture and speculation.

11:48 - Budlender: The interests of justice means more than Pistorius fair trial rights, it's also about open justice.

11:47 - Budlender: 3 rights relevant - 1. fair trial for Pistorius and NPA, 2. freedom of expression and 3. principle of open justice

11:47 - Adv. Budlender for eNCA - there is extraordinary interest in this matter

11:32 - You can also get all the details about the case here

11:27 - What do you know about the judge who will be presiding over the Pistorius trial? Find some info on her here.

11:12 - Snyckers: This is the future, need has never been so pressing for media access to court proceedings.

11:10 - Snyckers: "A witness today can't think his/ her evidence won't be shown on TV." Snyckers cites Marikana, Glynnis Breytenbach, Malema.

11:02 - Snyckers argues that broadcasting the trial will "tame the circus", i.e. calm media storm. (Hmm, I don't know about that...)

11:02 - Snyckers: We are offering the unfiltered truth - the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

10:59 - Snyckers: We live in a Twitter world. Issues of accuracy and interpretations. Live broadcast will eliminate (confusion).

10:57 - Snyckers suggesting that the broadcast will potentially help expose issues of gender violence, disability.

10:56 - Snyckers: Unprecendented, extraordinary public interest in this trial. Even (Women and Children) Minister Xingwana commented on importance.

10:54 - Snyckers: The concern for the trial being televised came from objecting witnesses.

10:49 - Judge Mlambo: We have to take into consideration the majority's preference for radio.

10:49 - Snyckers: We have an agreement with the NPA... Pistorius is the only party not to buy into this.

10:47 - Snyckers has yet to deal with argument from defence lawyers that broadcast of the trial will enable witnesses to tailor evidence.

10:46 - Snyckers argues audio and visuals will make the trial accessible to ordinary South Africans.

10:44 - Snyckers: The people with access to the trial will be the elite (who have internet access). Ordinary South Africans won't have access.

10:38 - Snyckers further discussing case law relating to coverage in court.

10:36 - Indeed...

10:35 - Pistorius's defence has already said they are opposing the broadcast bid. Read here.

10:33 - Judge Mlambo says broadcasting the case has the potential to fundamentally alter how South African courts respond to broadcast requests. 

10:31 - Judgment in SABC's failed attempt to televise Schabir Shaik trial has guided how courts in SA deal with broadcast.

10:26 - Snyckers: the trial judge can be given the option to de-activate the cameras when she feels it’s appropriate.

10:25 - Snyckers: The most remarkable and revolutionary camera technology will be used - little spy cameras hanging in court. (Spy cameras!)

10:24 - Snyckers says that order sought by media will help ensure that evidence isn't distorted.

10:23 - Snyckers: The world’s eyes will be on the criminal prosecution system, its fairness and efficacy.

10:22 - Snyckers: any witness who refuses to consent to being televised live won’t be. It confers a veto to that person.

10:21 - The NPA agreement says all consenting witnesses can ask for conditions of media broadcast, for example, faces obscured, etc.

10:20 - Snyckers: All argument and judgments should be televised, experts testifying must be televised…

10:19 - Advocate Frank Snyckers arguing for Multichoice says it is significant that the order sought by electronic media is actively supported by the NPA. NPA initially opposed broadcast but after speaking to organisations, support it.

10:18 - NPA agreement states that all expert evidence, testimony from police, evidence from consenting witnesses will be televised.

8:53 - One of the applicants Eyewitness News tweeted earlier: EWN editor-in-chief, Katy Katopodis: "The decision to make this application was not taken lightly and our application has been carefully considered. We believe portions of the trial need to be broadcast in the public interest.

Read more on:    enca  |  npa  |  multichoice  |  oscar pistorius  |  reeva steenkamp  |  pistorius trial

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