Prosecution case against Oscar Pistorius suffers a blow in court
Daniel Howden is Africa Correspondent for The Independent. He has reported from more than 50 countries covering everything from wars and elections to natural disasters and environmental crises. Special interests beyond Africa include southeast Europe, Latin America and global forests. A former Athens correspondent he has returned to Greece regularly during the European debt crisis. Now based in Nairobi, he acted as producer on the documentary 'Stolen Seas: Tales of Somali Piracy', winner of the Boccalino D'Oro prize at the 2012 Locarno film festival.
Wednesday 20 February 2013
The hunched Oscar Pistorius who wept through much of the first day and a half of this courtroom drama in South Africa, was replaced by an upright and alert observer this afternoon.
After a morning in which the prosecution drew a damning portrait of a deliberate killing at Mr Pistorius's Silver Woods home, the defence spent the afternoon unpicking the investigating officer's testimony.
By the time Detective Hilton Botha left Court C after an afternoon of blunders, he admitted he was no longer confident that the accused athlete would be denied bail, despite the seriousness of the charges against him.
He made a series of assertions including the discovery of “steroids” at the scene and Mr Pistorius's ownership of a house in Italy that he later had to retract under cross-examination. There was an audible gasp in the court when the detective admitted that the neighbours who told police that they had heard the couple rowing before the shooting live fully 600metres from the house of the accused. He also floundered in the face of detailed questions over where shots were fired from.
He was asked by Mr Roux whether the state's evidence was inconsistent with the account given by Mr Pistorius in his affidavit delivered the previous day. A forlorn Mr Botha replied “ no”.
The morning session was peppered with revelations over testosterone and needles found at the scene; unlicensed ammunition and papers for offshore bank accounts. Of four phones found in the house none had been used to phone police or paramedics, the prosecution pointed out.
The defence responded that there was a fifth phone that is in their possession, the bank account is a corporate one and is any case empty. Most damaging was their assertion that the drugs mistaken for testosterone were actually homeopathic supplements.
The Pistorius family who have been downcast so far appeared buoyant by the time that magistrate Desmond Nair called a halt for the day. The prosecution team looked frustrated with one aide admitting it had been a “damaging day” for the case agains the Paralympian.
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