Pistorius case: Partial televising of trial allowed

  • 25 February 2014
  • From the section Africa

A South African judge has ruled that the trial of athlete Oscar Pistorius can be partially televised.

Mr Pistorius shot his girlfriend, the model and reality TV star Reeva Steenkamp, more than a year ago, and his murder trial begins next Monday.

State prosecutors allege the killing was premeditated, but he claims he mistook her for an intruder.

The BBC's Pumza Fihlani says it will be the first time parts of a trial in South Africa are televised live.

Olympian sprinter Oscar Pistorius with his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in Johannesburg on 26 January 2013
South Africa was stunned when Oscar Pistorius shot dead his model girlfriend

24-hour channel

Judge Dunstan Mlambo at the court in Pretoria was asked to decide how much, if any, of the proceedings could be filmed and broadcast live.

The application was brought by media groups MultiChoice, eNCA and Eyewitness News, reported Sapa news agency.

Justice Mlambo said the entire audio of the trial could be broadcast live, and sections of the trial could be filmed and televised live.

These included opening arguments, evidence of experts, police witnesses and closing arguments.

The testimony of the accused and his witnesses were exempt, the judge said.

Three cameras could be set up to be operated remotely - and no close-ups or recordings of private conversations were allowed, he said.

Witnesses could apply in writing if they did not want to be on camera - and allowances could be made to have faces obscured or filmed from the back, he added.

MultiChoice is planning 24-hour coverage of the trial on its own dedicated channel - the Oscar Pistorius Trial channel - which is due to begin broadcasting on Sunday.

Defence lawyers had said it would prejudice proceedings.

Justice Mlambo said the broadcast of a "celebrity" trial might go a long way to address misconceptions about justice system.

However, he warned against a trial by media and said the court could be the only place where Mr Pistorius was tried.

Members of the ruling African National Congress Women's League march in Pretoria on the anniversary of the killing of Reeva Steenkamp, 14 February 2014
Public interest in the forthcoming trial is at fever pitch

Ms Steenkamp, 29, was shot three times through the toilet door of Mr Pistorius' Pretoria home in the early hours of Valentine's Day last year.

Mr Pistorius said he thought she was a burglar and denies prosecution claims that they had an argument in the hours before the shooting.

Much of the case will depend on ballistic evidence from the scene of the shooting, correspondents say.

The arrest of the national sporting hero astounded South Africa.

The 27-year-old double amputee won gold at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and also competed at the Olympics.

As well as the charge of premeditated murder, Mr Pistorius also faces a charge of illegal possession of ammunition.

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