Oscar Pistorius back in the dock as verdict looms

Defence and prosecution will present their closing arguments tomorrow

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The Independent Online

Oscar Pistorius is set to return to court tomorrow as his murder trial enters its final weeks with both legal teams expected to present their closing arguments after five months in court.

Defence counsel Barry Roux and state prosecutor Gerrie Nel will deliver their arguments for and against Pistorius, who is accused of murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, before Judge Thokozile Masipa.

Oscar Pistorius trial live

Judge Masipa is then expected to announce an adjournment before she announces her verdict, which could see Pistorius sentenced to life in prison for the fatal shooting of Ms Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year.

Throughout the trial, the prosecution has painted a picture of a gun-loving, possessive and jealous boyfriend who often snapped at Ms Steenkamp. In stark contrast, his defence argues the athlete's life has been marked by tragedy after undergoing a double leg amputation as a baby and losing his mother at a young age.

The prosecution's case is that Pistorius engaged in a heated argument with his 29-year old model and law graduate girlfriend in the early hours of Valentine's Day last year. A terrified Ms Steenkamp ran away from the bedroom and locked herself inside the en-suite bathroom hiding from the athlete. An enraged Pistorius then grabbed his gun and fired at the door knowing she was inside.


The prosecution has also accused him tailoring his evidence, citing the testimony of neighbours who claimed they heard a woman screaming and physical evidence in the crime scene that contradicts his version of events. Mr Nel has also accused him of changing his defence from self-defence, to automatism and mental illness, which was later dismissed by a panel of experts following a one-month psychiatric evaluation.

Meanwhile, his defence team argues that Pistorius’s achievements not only turned him into an national hero in the eyes of South Africa, but also served to mask his disability and the personal tragedy of a man who struggled to deal with his disability and felt vulnerable in the privacy of his home.

Pistorius himself claims he shot and killed his girlfriend in a case of mistaken identity thinking she was an intruder hiding in his bathroom. If convicted of murder, which the athlete denies, Pistorius faces a mandatory life sentence which usually carries a minimum of 25 years in jail, though mitigation could reduce it in this case.

If found guilty of the lesser charge of culpable homicide, he could face 15 years or a non-custodial sentence.