Pistorius prosecutors meet Apple to unlock iPhone

Oscar Pistorius

South African prosecutors pressing a murder charge against Oscar Pistorius secured a meeting with Apple officials in the US over accessing potentially crucial evidence on the double-amputee athlete’s locked iPhone, they said.

Pistorius claimed he forgot the password for the phone, one of a number found at his villa after he shot dead girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on February 14, 2013.

Investigators have been seeking help from Apple through the FBI since last year to get access to the phone, said a spokesman for South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority.

Investigators from South Africa were last night meeting with officials at Apple’s headquarters in California, said spokesman Nathi Mncube.

Pistorius’s trial starts on Monday, giving both prosecutors and Pistorius’s defence team just days to analyse any information on the iPhone. Prosecutors would be obliged to also give any evidence they find to Pistorius’ lawyers.

‘‘It can only add on the evidence we already have,’’ Mncube said on TV station eNCA. “It cannot be prejudicial to our case. The people concerned, should the evidence be favourable to us, are the defence. Then we have a responsibility to make it available to them as soon as we have it so they can also prepare for the trial.’’

The prosecution maintains Pistorius had a fight with Ms Steenkamp before killing her, a cornerstone of its case, and information on the Olympian’s phone may shed light on events before the pre-dawn shooting. Pistorius says he shot the model and reality TV star after mistaking her for a dangerous intruder.

Mncube wouldn’t comment on what prosecutors might be looking for on the phone. But even without access to it, Mncube said the state had enough evidence to support the charge of premeditated murder. Court documents indicate prosecutors are expected to build much of their case against the world-famous runner on witnesses who the state claims will testify to hearing a woman in Pistorius’s house screaming before the sound of gunshots.

That suggests a fight and contradicts Pistorius’s version of events.

Prosecutors also will likely try to use the trajectory of the bullets from the four shots fired by Pistorius through a toilet door to show he intended to kill Ms Steenkamp and was not fearful and acting in self- defence.

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