Defence team closes its case in Pistorius murder trial

Oscar Pistorius’s lawyers wrapped up their defence of the Olympic and Paralympic star, bringing the dramatic murder trial of one of the world’s best-known athletes closer to conclusion.

Judge Thokozile Masipa adjourned the court until August 7 to allow the legal teams to prepare closing arguments, due to take a day each. She will then begin her deliberations, extending a trial that has dragged on over four months.

The case has captivated global audiences and had round-the-clock coverage in Pistorius’s native South Africa, making it arguably the most-watched celebrity murder trial since US athlete OJ Simpson was cleared of murdering his wife and her friend in 1995.

Pistorius, who had his lower legs amputated as a baby, could face life in prison if he is found guilty of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, whom he shot and killed at his luxury Pretoria home on Valentine’s Day last year.

The 27-year-old athlete, known as “Blade Runner”, says he killed Ms Steenkamp after mistaking her for an intruder hiding in the toilet next to his bedroom.

The state alleges he fired four rounds from a 9mm pistol in a fit of rage after a row, killing the law graduate and model, 29, as she cowered behind the locked toilet door.

The killing has shattered the image of Pistorius as an embodiment of triumph over adversity for both his Paralympic victories and competition against able- bodied athletes at the 2012 London Olympics.

The track star broke down frequently during the trial, often sobbing and vomiting into a bucket.

Masipa banned any airing or publication of the closing arguments before they are read in court. There is no jury, and so the verdict hinges on whether Masipa believes Pistorius’s version of events.

She was only the second black woman to be appointed a high court judge and has a reputation for handing down stiff sentences in crimes against women.


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