Updates from Thursday, April 10
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel gave Oscar Pistorius a torrid time in the witness box on Thursday as the trial into Pistorius' shooting of Reeva Steenkamp continued.
The accused denies a charge of premeditated murder, but Nel attempted to prove Pistorius' account unreliable in relation to the events of Valentine's Day 2013, the night of Steenkamp's death.
Nel portrayed Pistorius as self-involved, reckless and unable to accept responsibility for his actions. He cast doubts over Pistorius' relationship with Steenkamp and highlighted several discrepancies in his version of events.
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Nel began by doubting Pistorius' relationship with Steenkamp, pointing out they never said "I love you" to one another. Nel suggested the Paralympian's whole life is only about him, per Sky News' Alex Crawford:
Nel then highlighted Pistorius' public apology, given to the Steenkamp family in front of the public eye when he first stood inside the witness box.
The prosecutor asked why he felt the need to do it in front of the public, again insinuating it was to bring focus to Pistorius, per Eyewitness News' Barry Bateman:
Focus then turned to the phone messages that were exchanged between Steenkamp and Pistorius, during which Steenkamp claimed she was picked on "incessantly." Nel forced Pistorius to suggest the deceased was lying:
Playing on the theme that Pistorius was only interested in himself, Nel then addressed Steenkamp's claim that Pistorius throws tantrums. The accused disagreed:
Crucially, Pistorius was then asked about Steenkamp's comment that she is "scared" of him, as well as claims from his ex-girlfriend Samantha Taylor that he screamed at her regularly.
BBC News' Andrew Harding noted that Pistorius did not alert his defence team to challenge Taylor's account when she was in the witness box:
Nel then drilled down into Pistorius' frequent criticisms of Steenkamp:
A separate argument centred on a song played by Pistorius, which upset Steenkamp. The title of the song is provided below:
Next came the argument when Steenkamp delayed Pistorius' exit from an event, leading to another public row:
At that stage, Nel switched to the Tasha's restaurant incident, when a gun was fired while in Pistorius' command. Pistorius pleaded not guilty and claimed he did not pull the trigger.
However, a firearms expert had already testified in court that the gun could not possibly go off without the trigger being pulled. Nel asked Pistorius why, if he didn't fire the gun, didn't defence lawyer Barry Roux challenge the expert's evidence:
After an adjournment, Nel focused on ammunition kept in Pistorius' safe, ammunition that belonged to the athlete's dad, according to the accused.
Nel pointed out that Pistorius' father refused to make a statement for this case and that Pistorius surely knew it was against the law for him to possess the ammunition of somebody else:
Pistorius also left a magazine in his bedside drawer, again against the law:
More negligence was highlighted in regard to the day Pistorius allegedly fired through a sunroof at a traffic light. Nel pressed Pistorius as to where his gun was during the day's activities:
Pistorius explained his agitation at a policeman's conduct when the group were later pulled over in the car. The policeman handled his gun "aggressively," said the accused.
Two friends—ex-girlfriend Samantha Taylor and Darren Fresco—previously claimed in witness statements that they then went with Pistorius, first to sign gun papers and then in the car when he fired at a traffic light:
Before lunch, Nel sharply turned to the moment Pistorius fired four shots at Steenkamp. Nel highlighted that defence lawyer Roux had stated that Pistorius' version was that he fired two double-taps. He asked why Roux would say that if it wasn't true:
Nel asked the same question he posed to Pistorius on Wednesday: Did you mean to fire at an intruder?
Following an adjournment for lunch, Nel wanted to focus on the night of Steenkamp's death, first asking when she last ate:
According to Pistorius' version, Steenkamp left the bedroom to go to the toilet, thus leading to him mistaking her for an intruder.
Nel asked how Pistorius did not see Steenkamp leave the room when she headed to the toilet:
Nel then highlighted inaccuracies with Pistorius' account of where the duvet and fan were placed in pictures of the bedroom taken by police.
Judging by the pictures, Steenkamp would not have been able to squeeze by Pistorius (and the fan) if she had gotten out the natural side of the bed, and Pistorius could not have closed the balcony doors as he claimed.
Pistorius claimed police had moved items for the purposes of the picture, but Nel pointed out the police did not know his version of events when the images were taken:
Concluding with yet more discrepancies in Pistorius' account, Nel suggested—by looking at images of the bedroom in court—that there is no way the two fans mentioned by Pistorius could have been placed where he said they were, based on dependent plug points:
Court adjourned for the day.
Oscar Pistorius faces another fierce examination from prosecutor Gerrie Nel on Thursday.
The South African athlete, currently aiming to prove he accidentally shot girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp dead after mistaking her for a burglar on Valentine's Day 2013, has reached one of the trial's most important moments.
Nel began Wednesday by forcing Pistorius into taking responsibility for his actions. His cross-examination was extremely aggressive from the off, as Nel stated, "You killed a person. Say it: 'I shot and killed Reeva,'" via Mike Hills and Jasmine Coleman of BBC News.
The prosecutor introduced a video of Pistorius opening fire on a watermelon. In the clip, Pistorius is heard comparing the exploding fruit to brains. The video in question was posted by Eyewitness News' Barry Bateman:
Alex Crawford of Sky News detailed Nel's exchange with Pistorius shortly afterwards:
Nel also targeted discrepancies between Pistorius' bail statement and witness testimony. In particular, he aimed to establish where the accused was when he heard a noise in the bathroom.
The prosecutor highlighted Pistorius' initial claim given in the runner's original bail statement, which said he had gone onto the balcony to bring a fan in from outside—per the Independent's Maria Tadeo and Tom Peck—potentially giving Reeva time to leave the bed and head to the bathroom without his knowledge.
Pistorius admitted on Wednesday he was "partly inside" when moving the fan, as reported by Mark Tran of The Guardian.
Nel also quizzed the Paralympian on whether it was an accident that he fired four shots on the night in question. Pistorius claimed he did not mean to shoot anybody, even the intruder whom he believed to be inside the toilet:
Court was adjourned after this revelation, giving both Nel and Pistorius a breather until Thursday. Some huge points were raised throughout the day, including both the video and admission that Pistorius may have never completely left the bedroom before shooting Steenkamp.
The next session, in which Nel's questioning continues, will see the Prosecution look to highlight more discrepancies between Pistorius' bail statement and witness testimony.
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