South Africa prosecutor accuses Pistorius of deceit | News | DW | 07.08.2014
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South Africa prosecutor accuses Pistorius of deceit

In the first day of closing arguments, the prosecution has painted South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius as a liar. The judge is to decide a verdict after the defense's closing arguments, scheduled for Friday.

Two days of closing arguments in the trial of Oscar Pistorius began on Thursday in Pretoria. Chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel argued not only that the 27-year-old Olympian had intentionally shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, but also that he had tried to deceive the court.

"The accused refused to take any responsibility and always placed the blame for his actions somewhere else," the prosecution argued.

Pistorius was, moreover, an "appalling witness," Nel said, pointing to several incidents in which he had "used well-calculated and rehearsed emotional outbursts to deflect the attention and avoid having to answer questions."

The defendant appeared calm in court as the proceedings were in their end phase on Thursday. Steenkamp's father, Barry, was present for the first day of closing arguments, his first appearance in court, as was Henk Pistorius, the defendant's father.

Nel also criticized the defense team for changing its account of the night of Steenkamp's death. It had begun with the argument that Pistorius had acted in self-defense, shooting through his bathroom door believing that an intruder was on the other side. Then, later, the defense claimed Pistorius had fired the gun by accident.

"It's two defenses that you can never reconcile," Nel said, calling Pistorius' testimony "devoid of truth."

The trial was postponed for a month while Pistorius was examined at a state mental facility, but a panel of experts found that he did not suffer from a psychological disorder.

Pistorius' defense layer, Barry Roux, is scheduled to deliver his closing arguments on Friday. Judge Thokozile Masipa will then adjourn the case and decide the final verdict.

If found guilty of premeditated murder, Pistorius - a gold-medalist Paralympian who achieved international fame when he competed in the London 2012 Olympics - faces a minimum 25-year jail sentence. Even if found innocent, he could still be convicted on charges of murder or culpable homicide.

kms/mkg (AP, AFP, dpa)