Oscar Pistorius trial: Some witnesses 'refused to testify'

Milton Nkosi: Some witnesses refused to testify because of publicity around the case

Some witnesses refused to testify at the televised trial of Oscar Pistorius because of the publicity, the South African athlete's lawyer has said.

They did not want "their voices all over the world", Barry Roux told the court as his team ended its case.

The court has now adjourned until 7 August for closing arguments.

The Olympic sprinter denies intentionally killing his girlfriend on Valentine's Day last year, saying he mistook her for an intruder.

The prosecution accuses the double amputee of deliberately shooting dead Reeva Steenkamp after the pair had an argument.

File photo: Oscar Pistorius (right) and his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp pose for a picture in Johannesburg, 7 February 2013 Mr Pistorius and his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp had been dating for three months before the fatal shooting
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Analysis: BBC's Pumza Fihlani in Pretoria

Although Oscar Pistorius' legal team revealed that some witnesses had refused to testify, it is unlikely to harm the athlete's defence, as this has always hinged on his testimony and that of experts.

The world heard chilling details of Reeva Steenkamp's last moments when he took the stand in April. Since then his team has sought to show that the shooting was a tragic accident. Their experts led evidence on his mental state and how his disability had shaped him.

There emerged a picture of "two Oscars": The incredibly talented Paralympic runner and a self-conscious man acutely aware of his vulnerability. His lawyers argue it is this fear that was behind the sequence of events that would see Ms Steenkamp lying lifeless in her boyfriend's home on Valentine's Day last year.

But the prosecution believes it has done enough to show that Mr Pistorius was trigger-happy and driven by jealousy; a man who shot the model knowingly and with intent.

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The trial, which began on 3 March, is the first in South Africa to be broadcast live on TV and has attracted intense global attention.

Mr Roux told the court in the capital, Pretoria, that the defence, which began its presentation on 28 March, had no more witnesses to call.

He said he had chosen not to ask Judge Thokozile Masipa to make them appear, the Associated Press news agency reports.

"There's nothing that we can do about it,'' he said.

He did not name the witnesses who had refused to testify.

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What happens next?

• Prosecution to file its written argument to the judge by 30 July

• Defence to file its written argument by 4 August

• Trial resumes on 7 August to hear the final presentations from both legal teams

• Trial will then adjourn to allow the judge and her assessors to consider their verdict

Andrew Harding: How did defence fare?

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There are no juries at trials in South Africa, so the athlete's fate will be decided by the judge, assisted by two assessors.

Both the prosecution and defence teams must submit their written arguments Judge Masipa before the trial resumes in August.

She warned that these documents should not be leaked before the arguments were put forward in court.

If found guilty of murder, the 27-year-old, who went on trial on 3 March, could face life imprisonment.

If he is acquitted of that charge, the court will consider an alternative charge of culpable homicide, for which he could - if convicted - receive about 15 years in prison.

INTERACTIVE
  • ×

  • 1. Balcony

    × Balcony

    Mr Pistorius said in his statement at the start of the trial that he woke in the early hours and walked on his stumps to the balcony, pulled in two fans, closed the sliding door and drew curtains. He said that shortly before he had spoken to Reeva, who was in bed beside him.

    He said he rejected prosecution claims that a witness heard arguing coming from the house before the shooting.

  • 2. Bathroom window

    ×

    Mr Pistorius said he heard the bathroom window sliding open and believed that an intruder, or intruders, had entered the bathroom through a window which was not fitted with burglar bars.

    "Unbeknown to me, Reeva must have gone to the toilet in the bathroom at the time I brought in the fans," he said.

    Mr Pistorius said he approached the bathroom armed with his firearm, to defend himself and his girlfriend, believing Ms Steenkamp was still in bed.

  • 3. Shooting

    ×

    Both sides agree four bullets were fired. Ms Steenkamp was hit three times.

    Mr Pistorius said he fired his weapon after hearing a noise in the toilet which he thought was the intruder coming out of the toilet to attack him and Ms Steenkamp.

    He said he was in a fearful state, knowing he was on his stumps and unable to run away or properly defend himself.

    Mr Pistorius said he rejected claims that he was on his prostheses when he shot at the door.

    A witness told the trial she woke to hear a woman screaming and a man shouting for help. She said that after the screams she heard four shots.

  • 4. Bedroom

    ×

    Mr Pistorius said he went back to the bedroom after shooting at the toilet door, still shouting for Reeva. Lifting himself up onto the bed, he felt over to the right hand side of it and noticed Ms Steenkamp was not there.

    Mr Pistorius said this was when he realised she could have been in the toilet.

  • 5. Toilet door

    ×

    Mr Pistorius said he went back to the bathroom but the toilet was locked, so he returned to the bedroom, pulled on his prosthetic legs, turned on the lights before bashing in the toilet door with a cricket bat.

    Forensics expert Johannes Vermeulen told the court that the height of the marks on the door caused by the cricket bat suggest Mr Pistorius was on his stumps at the time.

  • 6. Emergency calls

    ×

    Mr Pistorius's defence team say he then called security at the gated housing complex and a private paramedic service before carrying Ms Steenkamp downstairs.

    A security guard claimed it was the other way round, and he had called Mr Pistorius first after reports of gunfire. However, phone records shown to the court revealed Mr Pistorius called the estate manager at 3:19am, a minute later he called the ambulance service and at 3:21am he called estate security.

    A minute later he received an incoming call - estate security calling him back.

    According to police phone expert Francois Moller, Mr Pistorius called his friend Justin Divaris a short time later and just after 4:00am he called his brother Carl.

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