Oscar Trial 3.3.2014 06:00 am

Oscar sends message on social media

FILE PHOTO: The lead prosecutor in the Oscar Pistorius trial, Gerrie Nel (second from left) preparing for the Oscar Pistorius trial with Department of Justice officials and media representatives. Picture supplied 28 February 2014

FILE PHOTO: The lead prosecutor in the Oscar Pistorius trial, Gerrie Nel (second from left) preparing for the Oscar Pistorius trial with Department of Justice officials and media representatives. Picture supplied 28 February 2014

Less than 24 hours before the start of his murder trial in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria today, Paralympian Oscar Pistorius send a message to his fans thanking them for their support.

According to messages on Twitter on the eve of Pistorius court appearance, he sent the message to his followers on his official Facebook page. It read: “Thank you for the continued support and words of encouragement during this difficult time.”

Pistorius’ uncle Arnold Pistorius also issued a statement at the weekend: “We love Oscar, and believe in him, and will be standing by him throughout the coming trial. With less than two days before the commencement of Oscar’s criminal trial, the family as well as the legal team, will not be distracted by extraneous issues that have no bearing on, or relevance to, the legal process that must now be allowed to unfold.

“We will not be commenting on any media reports, nor will we be engaging the press on any issues that belong in court.

“The time for public commentary is over. The focus is now entirely on a very serious trial that is set to start this Monday,” News.sky.com reported on the statement.

When Pistorius goes on trail today, he will face the grimmest challenge of his extraordinary life for the alleged premeditated murder of his girlfriend.

Journalists from all corners of the world will descend on the court where Pistorius will be asked to plead to a charge of murdering Reeva Steenkamp, in the early hours of Valentine’s day last year.

He also faces two charges of unlawfully discharging a firearm in a public place and the unlawful possession of ammunition.

Lead prosecutor Gerrie Nel was in court GD on Friday when technicians installed remote controlled television cameras and microphones in terms of a ground breaking ruling allowing live coverage of most of the trial, with the exception of the evidence of Pistorius and his witnesses.

Although he confirmed that the trial will run until its conclusion, he remained tight lipped about who the first state witness will be.

However, it is expected that the state will kick off the trial by setting the scene of the alleged murder.

Pistorius’s trial differs from most other domestic violence trials in that he has already admitted firing the shots which killed his girlfriend, but claimed he had fired four shots through a locked bathroom door in a state of terror because he thought there was an intruder in the house.

The State alleges Pistorius had deliberately shot Steenkamp after an argument overheard by neighbours and then told security officers at his estate he was “fine”.

Legal experts agree that even if the court accepts Pistorius’s version that it was a tragic accident, he will have a tough time to explain why four shots had been necessary to defend himself in circumstances where there was no direct or imminent threat against him.

He will also have to prove that his fear was genuine and that a reasonable person would have acted in the same way under the circumstances.

Prominent criminal attorney Llewellyn Curlewis believes Pistorius’ case will rest on his own evidence and how he fares under cross-examination because only he can tell the court what happened.

Both he and experienced criminal defender Advocate Johann Engelbrecht SC pointed out that the South African law was quite clear that one could not use more violence than necessary to defend oneself and that you had to use every other possible measure rather than to shoot.

Constitutional Law expert Pierre de Vos said in his blog Constitutionally Speaking it would be difficult for Pistorius to escape a murder conviction unless he was found to have acted in what was referred to in legal terms as putative self defence – the honest but mistaken belief that his life was in danger.

Wits law lecturer and attorney Prof Steven Tuson said the only issue that had to be determined was what Pistorius’s state of mind and intention had been at the time.

“”What was he thinking when he pulled the trigger? That will determine his innocence or guilt,” he said.

Eminent forensic science expert Dr David Klatzow said if the state could prove that Pistorius was trigger-happy and had anger-management problems it could go to the level and type of criminal intent that was applicable in the case.

He predicted that there would be “some real gunslinging” between experts in the trial as both sides relied on their own teams of experts ranging from pathologists to ballistic and blood splatter experts.

Pistorius has also employed American forensic animation firm The Evidence Room to digitally recreate the crime scene using computer animation.

 

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