Oscar Pistorius: Defence closes case in athlete's murder trial

Pistorius murder trial has been adjourned until 7 August for closing arguments ahead of verdict

The defence team for Oscar Pistorius has wrapped up its case, bringing the athlete's murder trial closer to a verdict, after five months that have rocked South Africa and dominated world headlines.

Defence counsel Barry Roux finished calling witnesses on Tuesday morning, noting that some of them decided not to appear in court because of the media frenzy surrounding the case.

Chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel said the prosecution will file closing arguments on 30 July and the defence will do so on 4 August. Both Mr Nel and Mr Roux will present their closing arguments before judge Thokozile Masipa on 7 August.

South Africa does not have trial by jury, meaning the athlete's fate, who is accused of murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp through a locked toilet door, will be decided by Judge Masipa, with the help of two assessors.

Throughout the trial, the prosecution has painted a picture of a gun-loving, self-entitled, possessive and jealous boyfriend who often snapped at Ms Steenkamp.

The trial has also seen dramatic scenes in which Pistorius, 27, would often break down in tears and vomit at the sight of graphic evidence, which included gruesome images of Ms Steenkamp's injuries.

 

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 locked herself inside the en-suite bathroom hiding from an enraged Pistorius. He grabbed his gun and fired at the door knowing she was inside.

In stark contrast, his defence argues that 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.

Witnesses for the defence have testified that there are "two Oscars" and his lifestyle was a "paradox": a national hero in the eyes of South Africa versus 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.