7 August 2014

South Africa: Oscar Tailored Evidence - Nel

Pretoria — Murder-accused paralympian Oscar Pistorius tailored his version of what happened the night he shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp because he was concerned of the implications, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Thursday.

"The accused did not present as someone striving to give a truthful version, but... someone who was tailoring a version and was more concerned with the implications of his answers," prosecutor Gerrie Nel said.

"The accused was more concerned about 'defending for his life' than entrusting the court with a truthful account of his conduct on that fateful morning."

Nel said the lies told had a snowball effect, but that not all "untruths" were important.

During the trial Pistorius said he was "fighting for his life" when Nel cross-examined him.

Nel said Pistorius admitted that his evidence consisted of what he could remember and a reconstruction of the events. He said this should sound warning lights.

"The accused should give a version of what happened," Nel said.

"This is an indication of the nature of the accused... He had to adapt his version. This is a significant implication of the accused's deceitfulness."

Nel said the court should reject Pistorius's version because he used phrases like "my memory is not very good at the moment" and "I do not have an independent recollection".

"The accused created a version that simply revealed his mendacity and deceitfulness," Nel argued during his closing arguments.

"It is our respectful submission that tailoring of evidence must have a domino effect."

If one piece of the mosaic was moved, the rest would also be moved to keep the picture intact.

Nel referred to the placement of a duvet and fans that arose during the trial.

He said Pistorius had tailored a version to explain why the duvet was not in a certain position.

Pistorius had said he could not run on his stumps and therefore he did not run away. But he could run between bedroom and bathroom.

Pistorius is charged with Steenkamp's murder on Valentine's Day last year. He shot her through the locked door of his toilet at his Pretoria home.

Pistorius has denied guilt, saying he thought she was an intruder about to open the door and attack him. The State contends he shot her during an argument.

Pistorius is also charged with three contraventions of the Firearms Control Act, one of illegal possession of ammunition and two of discharging a firearm in public. He has pleaded not guilty to these charges as well.

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