Oscar Pistorius: The charges

Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius arrives ahead of his trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria 9 April 2014 Image copyright Reuters

South African Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius is on trial, accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp but he also faces three other charges.

Pre-meditated murder

The prosecution says Mr Pistorius deliberately shot Ms Steenkamp in the early hours of 14 February 2013 - Valentine's Day following an argument.

He has pleaded not guilty, saying he heard a noise coming from the bathroom and went to investigate. Fearing there was an intruder, he went with a gun in his hand and then fired four rounds in quick succession after hearing a subsequent noise. He says he did not mean to pull the trigger.

He also denies the couple had an argument that night.

If convicted of pre-meditated murder, he could face life in prison.

Culpable homicide

If he is acquitted of murder, under South African law, the judge must then consider whether he is guilty of the lesser charge of culpable homicide, or manslaughter.

Mr Pistoruis has not been asked to plead on this charge but his statement that he did not mean to pull the trigger would imply a not-guilty plea.

On this charge, the judge will need to assign a degree of negligence. The higher the negligence, the longer the prison term. If convicted on this charge, he could face up to 15 years.

Image copyright AP Photo/Ice Model Management
Image caption Oscar Pistorius said that he and Reeva Steenkamp had been planning a future together

Discharging firearms in public - two counts

First count: He allegedly discharged a firearm at Tasha's restaurant on 11 January 2013.

The court heard that this happened at lunchtime, when more than 200 people were present, and children were near their table. The charge not only points to discharging a firearm in a public place but the reckless handling of the said firearm.

Mr Pistorius blamed his friend Darren Fresco for passing him a loaded gun but he denies pulling the trigger. Chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel said it must have been a "miracle".

Second count: He allegedly fired a gun through a car sunroof while with then girlfriend Samantha Taylor and friend Darren Fresco on 30 November 2012.

He has admitted getting angry after a police officer inspected his gun which was lying on a car seat, when they were stopped for speeding.

But he denies firing a gun, as alleged by both Ms Taylor and Mr Fresco.

He could face five years in prison on each count.

Illegal possession of ammunition

Mr Pistorius is charged with being in possession of .38 ammunition, which would be illegal because he does not have a licence for a gun that takes that ammunition, or a permit to be in possession of it or a dealer's licence which would allow him to be in possession of the bullets.

Mr Pistorius told the court the bullets belonged to his father and he had them for safe-keeping. Mr Nel says his father has refused to make a statement confirming this.

The prescribed sentence on this count is 15 years in prison.

  • ×

  • 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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