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Pistorius physically sick in court as autopsy evidence given

Pathologists have given evidence about the shooting of Reeva Steenkamp in the murder case against Paralympian Oscar Pistorius. Listening to details of the autopsy, Pistorius was physically sick in court.

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Pistorius sick in court as autopsy details given

The court on Monday heard from University of Pretoria pathologist Gert Saayman, who said that Steenkamp was shot with bullets designed to expand on impact, causing maximum tissue damage.

As the graphic testimony was being given, Pistorius blocked his ears and vomited. Saayman said Steenkamp had been hit four times in all with "Black Talon," hollow-point bullets - in the head, hip, hand and elbow - and that she would have likely fallen unconscious within a short time.

The 27-year-old Pistorius has maintained he fired four shots at Steenkamp through a locked bathroom door on Febuary 14 last year. Pistorius claims he believed her to be an intruder and denies intentionally killing her.

As the nature of Steenkamp's injuries was read out, Pistorius could be heard retching and seen shaking. There was a brief adjournment to allow him to recover his composure.

No live coverage permitted

Judge Thokozile Masipa had earlier upheld a request not to allow live broadcast of the post-mortem evidence being given, due to its graphic nature. Blog posts were also banned. The request was made by the prosecution and defense, as well as the witness himself.

With no trial by jury in South Africa, it is for Judge Masipa to pronounce Pistorius innocent or guilty and decide on any sentence. In previous days, the hearing has heard

evidence from a security guard at the complex

where the couple lived, as well as

neighbors who said they heard Steenkamp screaming.

If convicted, prosecutors said they would ask for a life sentence - the strictest punishment available in the country. Pistorius, who ran at the London 2012 Olympic Games, would have to spend a minimum of 25 years in prison, if a life sentence were handed down.

The case has garnered international attention as the world's most high-profile trial involving an athlete since the case of OJ Simpson in the mid-1990s. Hundreds of journalists are in Pretoria to follow the case.

rc/rg (AP, AFP, dpa)

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