Oscar Pistorius had planned Manchester trip for Reeva

  • Manager tells court that Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp were in a ‘loving relationship’

Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp were in a “loving and caring relationship” with plans to travel to Brazil and Manchester, according to the athlete’s manager.

Peet van Zyl told the court that the couple called each other pet names and that Steenkamp was the first of his girlfriends ever to be invited on a professional trip with him overseas.

Pistorius wanted Steenkamp to “see what my world is about” and had asked for an additional business-class ticket for her to join him for athletics meetings in Manchester and Brazil, said Van Zyl.

He added that Steenkamp was “very excited” when he and Pistorius told her the news via video call, just a week before she was shot.

Pistorius sat with his head in his hands as he listened to his manager describe his plans to take Steenkamp to an Andrea Bocelli concert in Tuscany, reports The Guardian.

Van Zyl revealed that the athlete had planned to retire from athletics in 2017 with the strong financial position he had built after London 2012.

The manager said he could only remember two occasions when the athlete lost his temper: once at an airport in Barcelona in 2009 when the athlete was called a “cheat” for wanting to race against able-bodied athletes and another occasion during an interview with the BBC in London.

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Prosecutor Gerrie Nel began his cross-examination today, suggesting that Pistorius’s need to show Steenkamp “his world” was perhaps to resolve issues that they had been arguing about.

The prosecutor questioned Van Zyl about a report that South African paralympian Arnu Fourie asked to move out of the bedroom he was sharing with Pistorius during the Olympics because Pistorius argued on the phone all the time. Van Zyl said he was not there, but was told that there were issues between the two athletes.

Nel is expected to continue his cross-examination tomorrow.

Oscar Pistorius: judge’s concern over mysterious missing cord

30 June

Police officers who sealed off the crime scene at Oscar Pistorius’s house have been ordered to explain how a significant piece of evidence went missing from his bedroom.

Defence lawyer Barry Roux told the court today that an electrical extension cord had disappeared while under police watch.

The cord was used by prosecutor Gerrie Nel earlier in the trial as evidence to support his claim that Pistorius was lying about his version of events.

The athlete claimed he was bringing in two fans from the balcony when Steenkamp quietly disappeared to the toilet without him realising. He said he then heard a noise in the bathroom and, believing it to be a dangerous intruder, opened fire on the toilet door.

But after pressing Pistorius on exactly where he had placed the fans in the bedroom, Nel revealed that the extension cord would not have reached that far.

Today, Judge Thokozile Masipa appeared to be “extremely angry” that the evidence had gone missing, reports the Daily Telegraph. “It’s very strange,” she told the court. “[The police] locked the house each day. It was in their possession. I’m very concerned.”

She has backed the defence’s request for an investigation and affidavit from the officer in charge of securing Pistorius’s house.

Earlier in the day, Nel summarised the results of Pistorius’s mental health evaluation, which stated that he did not suffer from a mental illness or defect that would have affected his actions on the night he shot Steenkamp.

Two defence witnesses also appeared in court today. First up was Dr Gerald Versfeld, the orthopaedic surgeon who amputated the athlete’s legs. He emphasised Pistorius’s vulnerability and unsteadiness without his prosthetic limbs. Prosecutor Nel used his testimony to suggest that the athlete’s version of events, in which he ran back to his bedroom on his stumps, could not be true.

The second witness of the day, Ivan Lin, an acoustic expert, said it was “unlikely” that a scream from Pistorius’s toilet could be heard “audibly and intelligibly” from 170m away. This casts doubt on the testimony of one neighbour, Michelle Burger, who insisted that she heard a woman screaming for help on the night of the shooting. Lin suggests it would not be possible to distinguish between a male and female from that far away.

Several police blunders have already emerged in the trial. One of the athlete’s watches appears to have been stolen, while one officer handled the firearm without protective gloves and other evidence was moved around the crime scene.

Oscar Pistorius not mentally ill when he shot Reeva: what happens next?

30 June

Oscar Pistorius did not suffer from a mental illness or defect that would have affected his actions on the night he shot Reeva Steenkamp, a psychiatric assessment has found. As the athlete’s trial resumed in Pretoria today, the basic results of his 30-day mental health evaluation were announced in court by prosecutor Gerrie Nel. Pistorius “did not suffer from a mental illness or defect that would have rendered him criminally not responsible” when he killed his girlfriend on 14 February 2013 and he was “capable of appreciating the wrongfulness of his act”, said the prosecutor. So what happens next?

Evaluation results

Both the defence and prosecution have said they accept the findings of the report, although defence lawyer Barry Roux has asked for more time to read it through and carry out consultations. It is possible that either side could make a submission to the court relating to the results later on in the trial. Judge Thokozile Masipa was only handed the report for the first time this morning so she will also need time to read it. It is unclear if the testimony of defence witness Dr Merryll Vorster will be dismissed as a result of the evaluation’s findings. Vorster triggered the 30-day mental health evaluation after claiming that Pistorius had a generalised anxiety disorder, which might have affected his behaviour on the night of the shooting. Even if Pistorius suffers the disorder now, it appears that he will not be able to use this diagnosis as a defence or mitigating factor in sentencing.

Final defence witnesses

Pistorius’s defence team has already resumed its case, with several more witnesses to be called. First up is Dr Gerald Versfeld, the orthopaedic surgeon who amputated Pistorius’s legs. The Daily Telegraph suggests that another psychologist and potentially some friends of Pistorius and Steenkamp could also be called.

Final arguments

Once the defence has brought its final witnesses and closed its case, both sides will have the opportunity to present their arguments as to why Pistorius should or should not be convicted. According to ABC News, the trial could be postponed for as long as six weeks to give the lawyers time to prepare their final written arguments. These documents will explain in detail each side’s version of events on the night of the shooting and how the evidence presented in court supports their account. The documents will be given to the judge, her assessors and the opposing sides. Both the defence and prosecution will also put their arguments verbally to the court.

The case will be adjourned, possibly for a few weeks, to give Judge Masipa and her assessors time to consider the final written documents and the evidence they have heard in court. South Africa abolished jury trials under apartheid in 1969, due to fears of racial prejudice by white jurors. A judgement will therefore be passed by Masipa, who could take a day or more in court giving her summary and analysis of the evidence.

If Pistorius is found guilty then the court must consider an appropriate sentence. Both sides are entitled to present arguments or evidence for a longer or shorter sentence. If convicted of premeditated murder, the athlete faces up to 25 years in prison.

If Pistorius is convicted, he could still appeal to the supreme court, where three to five judges would listen to his case, and even eventually to South Africa’s constitutional court.

Read more: http://www.theweek.co.uk/world-news/oscar-pistorius/53387/oscar-pistorius-not-mentally-ill-when-he-shot-reeva-what-now#ixzz36J4TZ59q

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