Pistorius trial judge sets date for verdict

The judge in the Oscar Pistorius trial has announced that she will deliver her verdict on September 11.

Thokozile Masipa confirmed the date after the prosecution and defence teams ended their final arguments yesterday in the murder case against the double-amputee, who shot dead girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day, last year.

Pistorius said he mistakenly shot Ms Steenkamp, thinking there was an intruder in his home. The prosecution alleges the Olympic runner intentionally killed her after an argument.

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“The accused intended to kill a human being,” chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel said. “There must be consequences.”

Mr Nel has urged the judge to dismiss Pistorius’s entire story as an elaborate lie and to convict him of premeditated murder, a charge that carries a sentence of at least 25 years in prison.

Pistorius could also be convicted of a lesser murder charge or negligent killing, both of which could see him serve several years behind bars. Judge Masipa could acquit him if she believes he only made a tragic error.

Barry Roux, the chief defence lawyer, said Pistorius’s disability had made him particularly vulnerable and anxious about crime over the years, comparing him to a victim of abuse who kills an abuser after a long period of suffering.

Pistorius had his lower legs amputated when he was a baby, and Mr Roux argued that the athlete’s long-held fear of being attacked played a central role in what he called an accidental killing.

Pistorius pleaded not guilty to murder and three separate firearm charges.

Mr Roux, however, conceded that he was guilty in one of those firearm charges, of negligently firing a gun in a public place in an incident in a restaurant weeks before the killing.