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Oscar Pistorius trial to be on TV: report

AFP | DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published Feb 26, 2014, 1:29 pm IST
Updated Mar 19, 2019, 9:55 am IST
Photo - AFP
 Photo - AFP

Johannesburg: Parts of Oscar Pistorius' murder trial can be broadcast live on television by three remote-controlled cameras in court, but testimony given by the double-amputee Olympian can't be shown, a judge has ruled.

Pistorius' lawyers failed in their bid to stop any part of the trial being broadcast as a judge sitting in the North Gauteng High Court, where the trial will open next week, yesterday ruled mostly in favour of the South African TV and radio applicants.

A live audio-only feed can broadcast the entire trial. Judge Dunstan Mlambo's decision opens up much of Pistorius' blockbuster trial to the expected scrutiny of millions of fascinated followers around the world. "Court proceedings are in fact public and this objective must be recognised," Mlambo said.

The decision came two days after a Twitter site to be used by members of Pistorius' family during the trial became active. It already has more than 20,000 followers.

Mlambo, who won't preside over the trial, granted permission to the South African media houses to install unmanned television cameras in unobtrusive locations in the courtroom before the trial starts Monday.

The three questions that could be key to the trial:

Did the couple argue on the night of the shooting?

In his affidavit, Pistorius claimed the couple spent a quiet night at home. They ate dinner then Pistorius watched television while Steenkamp did yoga, before both fell asleep. The prosecution is expected to challenge that account, calling on the testimony of neighbours who claim to have heard shouts and screams coming from the couple's house.

The couple's mobile phone records could also offer evidence of a fight. Steenkamp is said to have had her phone with her in the toilet when she was shot. Did she contact friends?

Authorities have been trying to get access to Pistorius's iPhone. He claims to have given them the correct password, but it did not work. Does it contain evidence of a fight in the form of text messages, or as one local paper recently reported, evidence that Pistorius was looking at porn on the night of her death.

If the couple did in fact argue early that Valentine's Day it would contradict Pistorius's account of events and provide the prosecution with a motive for premeditated murder.

Why did Pistorius not call the police?

In his affidavit, Pistorius says he called two numbers after realising he shot Steenkamp: Johan Stander, who was involved in the administration of the gated community where he lived and private medical service Netcare.

The prosecution is expected to probe his relationship with Stander and why Pistorius allegedly dismissed security guards who rang his house after hearing gun shots, telling them everything was fine. The prosecution could attempt to prove Pistorius killed Steenkamp and then attempted to cover up evidence.                 

Did the police irreparably taint the crime scene?

In the bail hearing, then lead detective Hilton Botha admitted he had entered Pistorius's home and investigated the scene without the correct protective footwear, lost track of ammunition at the scene and made several false assumptions.

In a case where there is only one surviving witness -- the accused -- forensic and material evidence is expected to be key. The treatment of the crime scene may throw the reliability of that evidence into doubt.

Already the prosecution looks set to concede that Pistorius was further away from the door when he shot than they first argued and that he was not in fact wearing his prostheses. Both arguments were initially put forward as evidence that Pistorius was not in fact scared and his actions were premeditated.

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