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.

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora