The chief prosecutor in the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius, wrapping up five days of cross-examination of the Olympian, has insisted that he intentionally shot his girlfriend dead as they argued.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said he had no further questions after presenting the prosecution’s case that Pistorius is lying in his account of mistakenly shooting Reeva Steenkamp in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine’s Day last year. Mr Nel said the double-amputee runner killed her intentionally after an argument.
In the adjournment after his cross-examination, Pistorius rubbed his eyes and briefly sank his head into the shoulder of a man who comforted him. He took a tissue from his sister Aimee, who squeezed his arm reassuringly. Shortly afterwards, he listened attentively as Barry Roux, his chief lawyer, spoke to him in a low voice.
Throughout the gruelling cross-examination, Mr Nel accused Pistorius of “tailoring” evidence and “concocting” a story that he shot out of fear of an intruder in a toilet cubicle in his bathroom.
Mr Nel said the couple fought during the night and Ms Steenkamp wanted to leave, then fled to the bathroom screaming before Pistorius shot her through the door with his 9mm pistol. Pistorius said he never heard Ms Steenkamp scream, or say anything in the minutes before he shot her.
The prosecutor even charged that Pistorius fired the four shots from about three metres away from Ms Steenkamp as he was talking and arguing with Ms Steenkamp, and changed his aim with later shots to ensure he hit her as she fell back. Mr Nel’s unrelenting questioning and accusations provoked many denials by Pistorius and caused the athlete to break down in sobs on numerous occasions.
The athlete says he thought Ms Steenkamp was an intruder about to come out of the toilet to attack him. He faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder.
Over the past week, Pistorius came under intense pressure from Mr Nel, who accused the world-famous disabled athlete of lying in the witness box. Pistorius has struggled at times to explain alleged inconsistencies during his evidence.
The trial continues.