Sport
Oscar Pistorius trial gets underway
Publish Date: Mar 03, 2014
Oscar Pistorius trial gets underway
Oscar Pistorius arrives in court ahead of his murder trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa on Monday. Photo/Reuters
  • mail
  • img
newvision

OSCAR Pistorius entered a not guilty plea in a South Africa courtroom at the start of his murder trial for the shooting death of his girlfriend.

Pistorius is charged with murder with premeditation in the death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day last year.

Pistorius says he shot Steenkamp by accident, thinking she was an intruder inside his bathroom.

The double-amputee Olympic athlete arrived in the courtroom at the high court in Pretoria wearing a dark grey suit and black tie. He sat and drank from a bottle of water.

Steenkamp's mother, June, earlier entered the court dressed in black.

 

Steenkamp was quoted in the Pretoria News, publishing an interview she gave to a British newspaper, saying that she will attend the trial to see Pistorius.

"I want to look at Oscar, really look him in the eyes, and see for myself the truth about what he did to Reeva," said Steenkamp, 67. "Whatever the court decides at the end of his trial, I will be ready to forgive him ... But first I want to force him to look at me, Reeva's mother, and see the pain and anguish he has inflicted on me. I feel I need that."

Steenkamp will be seated near Pistorius's family, according to local media, so there is a possibility that their eyes will meet.

2 more gun charges expected on Monday

The start of the trial marks the start of a dramatic new chapter in the life of the double-amputee athlete who ran at the Olympics and became a global star before he shot his girlfriend to death.

Prosecutors charged the 27-year-old Pistorius with murder in Steenkamp's death and say it was with premeditation. They say they will seek a life sentence if Pistorius is convicted, the sternest punishment available in South Africa. South Africa no longer has the death penalty.

If convicted on the murder charge, Pistorius could be sent to prison for at least 25 years before the chance of parole, the minimum time someone must serve if given a life sentence in South Africa. He would be older than 50 before he could be released.

The state says Pistorius intentionally killed Steenkamp at his home in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day last year by shooting her through a toilet door after an argument. Pistorius denies murder and says he killed his girlfriend by mistake when he fired four times through the door thinking there was a dangerous nighttime intruder on the other side.

A lesser sentence is possible if Pistorius is found guilty of murder but without premeditation. He also could be convicted of culpable homicide, South Africa's version of manslaughter in which someone is killed through negligence.

Pistorius claims he was acting in self-defence against what he believed at the time was a threat to his life.

As well as murder, Pistorius faces a second charge of illegal possession of ammunition for bullets found at his Pretoria house that he allegedly didn't have proper licensing for. Prosecutors say he also will be indicted Monday with two more gun charges relating to him allegedly shooting in public on two separate occasions before Steenkamp's killing.

The serving of an updated indictment to Pistorius in court is expected to be the first move at the trial at Pretoria's high court. He has not yet been formally served with the papers that include all four charges against him, although his lawyers have had the papers and details of the additional gun charges since last year, prosecutors say. The gun charges reportedly relate to him allegedly shooting out the sunroof of a car in one incident and another when he allegedly fired a gun inside a restaurant, apparently by mistake.

Those incidents happened in the court jurisdiction of the city of Johannesburg, not where Steenkamp was killed in Pretoria, and prosecutors applied to have the two charges included and heard at his murder trial.

Trial by judge, not jury

Female judge Thokozile Masipa will ultimately pronounce the champion runner innocent or guilty and will decide on any sentence. South Africa has no trial by jury.

Parts of the trial will be broadcast on live television, both in South Africa and across the world, and hundreds of reporters are expected to descend on North Gauteng High Court in the South African capital for the start of the trial. The 24-hour cable channel devoted solely to the trial will continue until the case is finished.

The trial will deal with the bloody killing of a 29-year-old model and law graduate, but also the issue of gun ownership and South Africa's problem of violent crime, which Pistorius says was the reason why he kept his licensed 9 mm handgun under his bed. Pistorius says his fear of crime was why he fired four shots through the door, hitting Steenkamp three times — in the head, elbow and hip.

Prosecutors maintain he was simply angry with her after an argument.

Members of Pistorius's family will likely attend the trial, as they did on his previous court hearings. His uncle, Arnold Pistorius, sister Aimee and brother Carl are all also listed as state witnesses.

"We love Oscar, and believe in him, and will be standing by him throughout the coming trial," Arnold Pistorius said in a statement over the weekend.

Steenkamp's mother confirmed that she and other family members said will also be in the courtroom. The Steenkamps did not attend any of Pistorius's previous court appearances.

"All we are looking for is closure and to know that our daughter did not suffer on that tragic Valentine's Day," said Steenkamp's parents said in a statement last month, days before the one-year anniversary of the shooting that stunned South Africa.

Reuters

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Cranes skipper Andy Mwesigwa ‘should retire’
Former Cranes star Tom Lwanga has advised Cranes skipper Andy Mwesigwa to retire from the national team after the captain was sent off when Uganda collapsed against Guinea....
Uganda fails to qualify for Africa Nations Cup
Captain Andrew Mwesigwa is sent off as Uganda's road to the 2015 Africa Nations Cup finals comes to an end against Guinea in Morocco....
Uganda to host 2017 IAAF World Cross Country
Uganda will host the 2017 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, the International Association of Athletics Federations Council announced on Tuesday....
Cranes legends caution captain Andy Mwesigwa
Former Cranes striker Jackson Mayanja believes this is one of Uganda’s best opportunities to qualify for the Nations Cup....
Uganda on right track, says Diack
IAAF President Lamine Diack has said that Uganda Athletics Federation is on the right track and will be able to win more medals in the future....
Katwiremu wins senior golf tournament
Rwandan based golfer Steven Katwiremu returned 33 stable ford points on Saturday to win the Seniors Golf Tournament at Palm Valley Golf and Country Club....
Should workers be subjected to a 4% Health Insurance Tax??
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter