Oscar Pistorius has been accused of lying about his version
of events surrounding the death of Reeva Steenkamp. Photo
A South African prosecutor accused Oscar Pistorius of
lying and altering his story when the Olympic and Paralympic
athlete described the night he shot dead his girlfriend Reeva
Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year.
The double amputee sprinter, once revered across the world
for his triumph over physical adversity, faces life in prison
if convicted in the Pretoria High Court of the murder of
Steenkamp, a 29-year-old law graduate and model.
Pistorius, known as 'Blade Runner' due to the prosthetics he
wears on the track, says he shot Steenkamp in a tragic
accident, firing at what he thought was an intruder hiding
behind a toilet door in his luxury Pretoria home on February
14 last year.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel, whose reputation as one of South
Africa's toughest attorneys has earned him the nickname 'The
Pitbull', cross-examined Pistorius while looking through
photographs of the couple's bedroom taken after the shooting.
In a period of fierce questioning, Nel pointed out a series
of objects in one picture which ran counter to Pistorius'
account of events. In response, the sprinter accused the
police of tampering with the scene but Nel ridiculed this
"Let's sum up: A policeman moved the two fans, put the duvet
on the floor, opened the curtains wider than they should be
before the photographs were taken," Nel said.
"Your version is so improbable that nobody would ever think
it's reasonably possibly true ... Your version is a lie."
Pistorius says after he shot Steenkamp, he ran out on to the
balcony and screamed for help. However, in a picture shown to
the court, a duvet and a large stand-up electrical fan
clearly block his route to the balcony door.
With no direct witnesses, Nel's main task is to pick holes in
Pistorius' testimony and cast doubt on his assertion he
believed a burglar was in his house, a common fear in
crime-obsessed South Africa.
Witnesses in nearby buildings have testified to hearing a
woman's scream before the sound of shots, which the
prosecution hopes will help prove that the couple had a
heated argument before Pistorius intentionally killed
"ANYBODY BUT YOURSELF"
During much of the 19-day trial, Nel has sought to portray
Pistorius as an arrogant hot-head who is reckless with
firearms and refuses to take responsibility for his actions.
"You will blame anybody but yourself," Nel said to the
27-year-old track star, cross-examining him about a separate
incident in which Pistorius is accused of firing a pistol in
a packed restaurant.
Pistorius said the gun was given to him by a friend under the
restaurant table and went off by itself. Police Captain
Christian Mangena gave evidence earlier in the trial, saying
the weapon could only fire if the trigger was pulled.
The athlete said he could not explain how the gun went off
and questioned his own defence advocate Barry Roux's decision
not to cross-examine Mangena on his evidence.
"Now you blame counsel Mr Roux," Nel said, prompting Roux to
shake his head at a colleague.
"You are lying," Nel said, holding Pistorius in a stare. "You
just refuse to take responsibility for anything."
In a dramatic opening to his cross-examination on Wednesday,
Nel shocked the Pretoria court when he confronted Pistorius
with a graphic photograph of the dead Steenkamp showing the
side and back of her skull, her hair matted with blood and
Pistorius broke down and sobbed as Nel pushed him repeatedly
to take responsibility for killing Steenkamp.