Pistorius prosecutor hits out over ‘string of excuses to dodge blame’

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Oscar Pistorius’s credibility was consistently questioned at his murder trial yesterday as the chief prosecutor argued that the star athlete had a string of unlikely excuses why he wasn’t to blame in the three gun charges he faces on top of murder for the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel, in cross-examining Pistorius for a second day, questioned his honesty, which goes to the heart of the case, saying that the double-amputee Olympian wouldn’t “accept responsibility for anything” and reacted incredulously to Pistorius’s explanation of why a gun he was handling fired under a table in a packed restaurant.

Pistorius said the gun, a Glock pistol, went off while he was holding it but insisted it happened without him pulling the trigger.

The incident happened just weeks before model Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead by Pistorius on February 14, 2013. A police expert said earlier at the trial that the gun couldn’t be fired without the trigger being pulled.

Mr Nel said: “We have you in possession of the gun, a shot went off, but you didn’t discharge the gun? ... I’m putting it to you, you fired that gun. There is no other way. You are lying.”

“I respect Mr Nel’s comment,” Pistorius replied, “but I didn’t pull the trigger on that firearm.”

Pistorius also said two witnesses, a former girlfriend and a friend, were both lying about an incident in 2012 when the runner is alleged to have fired his gun out the sunroof of a moving car.

Pistorius said he wasn’t guilty of a fourth charge against him, illegal possession of ammunition for rounds of .38-calibre ammunition found in a safe in his home after the death of Ms Steenkamp. He said he was keeping the ammunition for his father.

But Mr Nel said Pistorius’s father Henke “refused” to make a statement to police on the ammunition being his.

“You just don’t want to accept responsibility for anything,” he told Pistorius. Pistorius’s answers to the accusations were short denials.

By attacking Pistorius’s credibility on the other three charges, Mr Nel was pushing the prosecution’s argument that Pistorius is also lying about killing his girlfriend by mistake.

Pistorius, 27, says Ms Steenkamp’s death was a terrible accident after he mistook her for an intruder and fired four times through a toilet door and into a cubicle. Prosecutors say he intended to kill the 29-year-old after a loud argument heard by witnesses and charged him with premeditated murder – for which he faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

Pistorius insisted again yesterday, the second day of his cross-examination by Mr Nel, that the shooting was an accident and he did not intentionally fire four shots.

“I didn’t have time to think about if I wanted to or didn’t want to,” Pistorius said.

Mr Nel also accused him of egotistical behaviour in his relationship with Ms Steenkamp, and described Pistorius’s courtroom apology to his girlfriend’s family on Monday as an insincere “spectacle” that ignored the feelings of her relatives.

“Your life is just about you,” Mr Nel told Pistorius, claiming he wasn’t “humble enough” to apologise in private to the family away from the media glare of his murder trial.

“That’s not true,” Pistorius replied.

The trial continues.