License article

Oscar Pistorius: emotional athlete set to face tough questions in defence of murder charge

Third day in the witness box: Oscar Pistorius returns to detail his version of events after a highly emotional previous day.
Third day in the witness box: Oscar Pistorius returns to detail his version of events after a highly emotional previous day. Photo: AP

Mr Nel turns to bail application again, asking why Pistorius shot at the door then, when today he says he never did.

Prosecutor: You can't get away Mr Pistorius I asked you if you fired at door (earlier) and you said no."

After a long reply, Mr Nel says: "Are you done sir?"

"Yes, my lady", the Olympian replies.

And we adjourn for the day.

Back tomorrow, same time - 9.30am.

Cross-examination likely not completed for some time yet...

Again, Pistorius says his "life is on the line."

Mr Nel seizes on this, saying "Reeva doesn't have a life because of what you've done. So please give us the truth."

Pistorius puts his head down, and appears to be trying not to cry.

This line of questioning is crucial - Pistorius is adamant he did not mean to shoot anyone, because to admit he shot with an intention to kill would almost certainly land him with a conviction for culpable homicide, at the very least.


Back to top

Mr Nel asks if it was the only option - a question many have asked.

"I didn't have time to think," he replies.

"It's easy for me to sit back now, to think what I could hae done ... but at that time I didn't, I had to deal with the situation I found myself in, I beleived I was going to be attacked and my life was in danger," he says.


Mr Nel asks if he is feeling okay, and Pistorius replies no.

"My life is on the line," he says.

"I never intended to kill anyone," saying he just fired out of fear.

"I had my finger on the trigger, it was an accident what happened. I agree with that. I didn't intend to shoot anyone. I fired my firearm before I could think, before I even had a moment to comprehend what was happening."


Mr Nel moves on, saying Pistorius "referred to this incident as an accident. What was that accident?"

Pistorius: I accidentally discharged my firearm believing there was an intruder in the house ... the discharge was accidental."

He says he "got a fright" from the noise in the toilet", believing somebody was coming to attack him and Ms Steenkamp.

Pistorius: I never intended to shoot anyone. I wasn't meaning to shoot anyone. Went to bathroom to put myself between danger and Reeva.

"I shot out of fear."

Nel says again: "You've got long answers. You're clearly rehearsed this. But you're not listening to the questions."

"I have to tell the truth, I would rather place all the evidence in court now even if its not in my favour ... I know I will be taken apart for that. I can't change the truth," Pistorius says.

Back to top

Mr Nel asks Pistorius why he mentioned only one fan, not the two he now talks about, in bail application.

Pistorius says he didn't put all the details in then.

He is speaking in a monotone, and has mentioned "the truth" a number of times in recent minutes.

So we can now see where Mr Nel is going.

He's picking small holes and inconsistencies in Pistorius' evidence, discrediting him on small things so he can discredit him entirely.

"You are trying to adapt your evidence," he says.

Pistorius says he is not.

Mr Nel: "You said both fans were plugged into this extension cord. Now you say you're not sure. Why?"

"I'm fighting for my life," Pistorius says, adding it's not a big deal he can't remember the plug situation.

"It's not insignificant Mr. Pistorius. It will show that you are lying."

Pistorius clearly knows the evidence against him very well, and is well-prepared. He is talking a lot though, and that is not generally advised by defence lawyers. Shorter the answers, less room for cross-examiner to find holes, gaps, inconsistencies.

Back to top

When answering, Pistorius uses the expression "we reworked my evidence" in relation to his case preparation, changing it quickly to "we worked with my evidence".

Mr Nel: You didn't want to use the word "reworked" your evidence?

OP: That was a mistake.

Mr Nel: "It's interesting that you did."

Mr Nel wants to know if Pistorius has consulted the experts.

He says no but admits he's sat in on meetings, "because I was only person there".

Pistorius mentions one mentions one expert who will be called by defence, otherwise tries to distance himself from nitty gritty of the evidence.

Wonder if Mr Nel is aiming, by asking about all this, to portray Pistorius as blaming everyone else but himself. Not sure though. Just a guess.

Nel: "After that long argument, do you still not remember what I asked you? You are arguing ... you have thought of answers you want to give to the court."

Think this is going to go on for a while.

Nel says when you change something on the scene with the intention to make it look different.

Can you just tell me how the fans were tampered with?

Pistorius says he remembers the fans were operating, so yes, the scene was tampered with. Says they were unplugged by police to plug in a cell phone.

Back to top