8 August 2014

South Africa: Prosecutor 'Desperate' - Oscar Lawyer

Photo: PHOTOESSAY: Judgement Day for Oscar Pistorius

Judge Thokozile Masipa reads her verdict in the trial of Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius on charges arising from the shooting and killing of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in their apartment in Pretoria in 2013.

Pretoria — The prosecutor in murder-accused Oscar Pistorius's trial is "desperate and naughty", Barry Roux SC, for Pistorius, told the High Court in Pretoria on Friday.

"Mr Nel is desperate. I have a lot of respect for Mr Nel and his experience," Roux said, referring to prosecutor Gerrie Nel.

Roux said Nel had submitted evidence in his closing arguments based on an interview on a Pretoria radio station.

He said Nel knew it was wrong and was being naughty because the prosecution lacked evidence.

"You cannot quote a radio and say this is evidence... The hole is too big. He had to refer to a radio station," Roux said.

"The State fetched cases from another jurisdiction... It was to create this atmosphere, knowing its deficiencies," he said.

Pistorius is charged with murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp 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 and it was premeditated.

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 also pleaded not guilty to these charges.

In his closing arguments on Friday, Roux said the court should find that Pistorius's version of events could not be rejected.

Pistorius was not the same as normal people when faced with danger because he could not run away when he was on his stumps.

"You know I cannot run away... There is a constant reminder that I do not have legs, I cannot run away, I am not the same -- that's with him," Roux said.

"He can pretend. He can pretend that he is fine. We must understand."

He said Pistorius was anxious and vulnerable and confronted the danger.

Roux referred to Hilton Botha, the initial investigator who was dropped from the case last year after he admitted to contaminating the scene.

Botha testified during Pistorius's bail application in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court.

Roux said the State had Botha give evidence during the bail application that Pistorius put on his prostheses and shot Steenkamp in cold blood.

He said Botha had conceded that his evidence was not based on professional input. Roux said this had led to Pistorius becoming argumentative during cross-examination by Nel.

"We need to expose this to the court. Expose the submissions made. Consider the accused," he said.

"Was he many times argumentative, yes my lady. Should he have been? Absolutely not," Roux said.

Pistorius allegedly fired a shot from a Glock pistol under a table at a Johannesburg restaurant in January 2013. On September 30, 2012 he allegedly shot through the open sunroof of a car with his 9mm pistol while driving with friends in Modderfontein.

Roux argued that the two witnesses who testified to the incidents --Pistorius's former friend Darren Fresco and ex-girlfriend Samantha Taylor -- both had motives to implicate Pistorius.

He said Fresco was an accomplice and wanted to incriminate the athlete while Taylor told the court he cheated on her with Steenkamp.

"Pistorius is not avoiding blame," Roux said.

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