News / Africa

Prosecutor Calls Pistorius 'Deceitful Witness'

  • Reeva Steenkamp's parents, June (second from right) and Barry Steenkamp (second from left), arrive for the closing arguments in Oscar Pistorius' murder trial, at the high court in Pretoria, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Oscar Pistorius (right) with his defense team Barry Roux (foreground), Brian Webber (left) and Kenny Oldwage (center) before the closing arguments, in the North Gauteng High Court, in Pretoria, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • State Prosecutor Gerrie Nel speaks during the closing arguments in the trial of Oscar Pistorius, in the North Gauteng High Court, in Pretoria, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Oscar Pistorius arrives in court for the closing arguments of his trial, at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Henke Pistorius, father of Oscar Pistorius, leaves after listening to the closing arguments in his son's murder trial at the high court, in Pretoria, Aug. 7, 2014.
Closing Arguments in the Pistorius Trial
VOA News

Final arguments have begun in the murder trial of former South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius, following months of gripping testimony that captured the world's attention.

Pistorius, once a national icon for reaching the pinnacle of sport despite having no lower legs, is accused of murdering his law graduate and model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, 29, at his home in Pretoria on Valentine's Day last year. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

Pistorius, 27, has denied the charge in the months-long trial in which he has at times sat weeping and vomiting in the dock as grisly details of Steenkamp's death were presented to the judge.

In his closing argument in the Pretoria courthouse, South African state prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked the judge on Thursday to reject Pistorius' defense as “devoid of any truth."

State's case

Nel set out the state's case that Pistorius deliberately shot and killed Steenkamp after an argument.

"It is the state's case the accused was a deceitful witness," said Nel, describing Pistorius's testimony was "absolutely devoid of any truth."

He said there are "glaring contradictions" in Pistorius' story.

Initially, Pistorius said he shot Steenkamp by mistake through a toilet door in his upmarket Pretoria home, believing her to be an intruder.

However under intense cross-examination, he said he accidentally shot his girlfriend as a result of deep-seated anxiety caused by his disability and did not mean to kill anyone.

Nel also said Pistorius had anxiety "on call," suggesting the runner manufactured a fear of crime to suit his version.

Legal analysts watching the case say the runner, once revered for his triumph over disability, did damage to his case by appearing to offer two different defenses.

Nearly 40 witnesses ranging from a jilted ex-girlfriend of Pistorius to a forensic geologist testified, creating a hefty record of more than 4,000 pages.

'Highly vulnerable individual'

Defense lawyers, who will present their closing arguments on Friday, have sought to portray Pistorius as a "highly vulnerable individual" obsessed with safety -- a result of a difficult childhood and his disability -- in a country with a sky-high crime rate.

In addition to the murder charge, Pistorius faces three separate gun-related charges, one of which stems from his alleged firing of a shot in a crowded restaurant called Tashas in Johannesburg, months before he killed Steenkamp. 

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Even if he is not found guilty of premeditated murder, Pistorius could still be convicted and jailed on alternative charges of murder or culpable homicide.

Because South Africa has no trial by jury, Judge Thokozile Masipa will decide with the help of two legal assistants if Pistorius committed murder, is guilty of a negligent killing, or if he made a tragic error and should be acquitted. The decision could take several weeks.

Masipa is only the second black woman to be appointed a high court judge in South Africa and has a reputation for handing down stiff sentences in crimes against women. 

Pistorius, a gold medalist Paralympian, rose to international fame when he competed alongside able-bodied runners at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AFP and AP.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jake
August 08, 2014 10:23 AM
Perhaps Barry Roux should have commented on the PIN CODE that Oscar forgot? This seems to have escaped his Heads of Argument that he presented to the Judge today, let alone two of those messages from Reeva, which were most revealing. No doubt too damaging for Oscar.

by: Timothy
August 07, 2014 3:24 PM
Absolutely devoid of any truth, is succinct. Four and a half thousand pages of the trial evidence illustrates the thoroughness of this trial and whilst painful for Reeva's family, it may bring some measure of closure in knowing that justice has taken its course.

by: Kafantaris from: Warren, Ohio
August 07, 2014 9:22 AM
Pistorius "did damage to his case by appearing to offer two different defenses."
This would be true in a jury case where the defendant either does not testify or he sticks to one story -- good or bad.
But it should not make a whole lot of difference with a judge trial since any testimony from the defendant can help to humanize him. And if the prosecutor has his way with him on the stand, this alone could ring some sympathy.

by: Dick from: Detroit
August 07, 2014 8:15 AM
Of course the prosecutor thinks he is a liar, that is what all prosecutors think about any defendant. They do not care about the truth nor do they use the truth to prosecute someone. It is the responsibility of the defense to come up with the truth to prove their innocence. Prosecutors rely on any little bit of information (fact or fiction) that can convict someone. They would be more then happy to put an innocent person in jail just to win a case.
In Response

by: alex aleman from: texas
August 07, 2014 9:58 AM
This man is gulity, done..if my wife is sleeping next to me wake her up, keep her safe from anyone..

by: Will from: Germany
August 07, 2014 7:31 AM
Now lets see what the other side has to say and hear some truths

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