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Oscar Pistorius: The athlete returns for further grilling at hands of top prosecutor


It is day 20 of the Oscar Pistorius murder trial and the Olympic and Paralympic track star faces a second day of cross-examination.

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Oscar Pistorius trial: live coverage

Watch a live feed from the courtroom in Pretoria where paralympian Oscar Pistorius is on trial accused of murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

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On that note, we get to the real nub of the state's cross-examination: they argue quite simply, when you analyse the detail, the Olympian's version is so highly unlikely that he must be lying.

And if he's lying about what happened before the shooting, they say, he is lying to cover up that he guilty of murder.

Mr Nel will continue his cross-examination in the morning.

It has been an enthralling day. Perhaps one of the most crucial so far.

We return tomorrow, at 9.30am.

We are in minute detail, discussing the position of a multiplug, the fan, the curtains, and Mr Nel says don't make sense.

If the fan was where Pistorius says it was, the extension cord wouldn't stretch.

Mr Nel: Keep trying Mr Pistorius, its not working. Your version is so improbable that nobody will ever think it's reasonably possible.

We're still on the fans, and Pistorius gives a very long winded explanation about their movements.

Mr Nel gets sarcastic again: The most amazing thing happened. Yesterday when we showed you these photographs you did not say anything!

Pistorius: I don't know.

It is now noted the bedroom ceiling light is on, Pistorius says he doesn't remember switching it on as per the photo.

Mr Nel: If you don't remember, can you categorically say it was off?

Pistorius: My only thought was to get Reeva, to help Reeva.

Mr Nel says the "only reasonable inference" is that Reeva Steenkamp ran away from the bedroom as the couple argued - that is the first time we have heard the state's explanation for the early screams.

Moving on, Mr Nel: Is this one big conspiracy? What do you think? Why would the police do all this?

OP: I'm not sure, my lady.

Mr Roux objects.

Pistorius reluctantly admits that for his version to be true a policeman would have had to move the fan, the duvet, and open the curtains.

Mr Nel says "that door was open when you and the deceased had an argument" and says Ms Steenkamp then ran away screaming.

Mr Nel shows another picture of the bedroom, the fan placed in doorway of the balcony sliding door, and Pistorius admits the fan shouldn't be there.

"You see Mr Pistorius, your version is a lie. You never closed those curtains."

This is crucial. If curtains were not closed the Oscar Pistorius should have been able to see inside his bedroom, seen Reeva not there.

Also, the picture shows that on Pistorius' version, he could not have run onto the balcony to scream for help after the shooting, because the fan was in the way.

Mr Nel says we must exclude the fact that Reeva got out of the bed on the righthand side - closest to the balcony, the side she was sleeping - because if she had, he would have seen her.

Pistorius seems to accept this.

So we have Ms Steenkamp rolling onto his side of the bed before walking to the bathroom and toilet.

Mr Nel appears to be building up to proposing an extreme unliklihood - that there was only a split second in Pistorius' version during which Reeva could have left the bedroom without him noticing.

Mr Nel says Pistorius is "adapting" his version depending on the questions and obstacles presented.

He says he's not, he's recalling what he can remember.

Also in the photo, we can see the duvet is on the floor.

Pistorius says he doesn't know how it got there, neither he nor Reeva put it there.

But Mr Nel refers to a police officer'sevidence that he was the first to go upstairs and he found the duvet on the floor.

Pistorius says when he got out of the bed, the duvet was on it - and it was covering the bottom part of Reeva's legs.

Mr Nel: "Ah, so you saw THAT. How do you know that?"

OP: "I moved it over."

Court is now seeing one of the crime scene photos, showing a picture of the tripod fan which looks very close to Reeva's side of the bed.

Pistorius has said a number of times it was "pitch black" but Mr Nel points out that there was enough light to see Reeva's denim jeans on the floor.

"I picked up the jeans. I could see them in the light from the amplifier. I picked them up from the floor. I wanted to pick up the jeans to place over the amplifier LED."

But Mr Nel says "if you did that you would face the passage".

Pistorius says no, he wsa facing the cabinet with the amplifier on it.

"I don't know how she got out of bed. It was pitch black and she was behind me," Pistorius said.

"It was pitch black and I wasn't facing the bed, so not strange I didn't see her. The fans were blowing in my face."

Pistorius says he doesn't know how he didn't see her, but he didn't.

Pistorius says he was on the lefthand side of the bed, Reeva on the right, as you looked at it.

He got up, went over to the balcony, brought the fan in, closed the door and the curtains.

Q: Reeva didn't say a word?

A: No.

Q: And you didn't see her get up?

A: No.

Pistorius says when he woke up, probably because it was hot and humid, he "rubbed my face and Reeva asked me if I couldn't sleep".

"Can't you sleep, baba?"

He said he replied no.

He then got the fans in and locked the door.

Pistorius says they were both busy on the iPad - looking at vehicles and pondering which were their top five cars, while the TV was on.

He asked Reeva to bring in the fans and close the balcony doors, then fell asleep.

Pistorius says if Reeva was not sleeping over at his house, he would sleep "in the middle of the bed."

After teeth-brushing excursion, he got onto the bed, Reeva was watching TV.

He had put his prosthetic legs on the floor next to bed "to air" them.

He had earlier put the tripod fan on the balcony - one leg on the balcony, two on inside of room. Smaller fan in front of it between two legs.

After dinner, Ms Steenkamp was doing yoga exercises, and stretches.

"Reeva got up and she walked to the bathroom... I went to brush my teeth."

State is about to embark on examining what side of the bed Pistorius slept on that night. He has said he didn't usually sleep on the left side, but did that night because of his shoulder injury.

Pistorius says he doesn't think it's possible that Ms Steenkamp went downstairs at some later time to eat again.


Mr Nel is asking Pistorius about what Reeva cooked for him in the hours before the shooting.

Pistorius said it was chicken strips and stir-fry vegetables.

We're back underway here.

Pistorius is getting upset again, says he's "confused" and doesn't understand whether it is an "accident" or "not an accident", he didn't mean to shoot.

After a pause, Mr Nel asks if it's an opportune time to take the adjournment... Judge adjourns for an hour, to 2pm.

Pistorius' voice has pitched higher again. He has been lower for most of the morning; emotionless.

OP: "I heard a noise coming from inside the toilet and I interpreted it at that moment as someone coming out to attack me."

Q: You had no reason to shoot, objectively?

A: That's correct.

Nel asks if he fired deliberately.

"No my lady I did not fire deliberately. I didn't mean to pull the trigger."

But then he says he reacted to a noise in the bathroom. "I fired in fear."

Q: Did you want to shoot the people coming out of the door or not?

A: I didn't have time to think...

He says he doesn't remember specifically firing the shots, but knows there were four fired now.

Do you remember firing at the door?

Yes I remember ... pulling the trigger and the rounds going into the door."

Mr Nel: Did you hear them go into the door or did you see them go into the door?

Pistorius: It's where the firearm was pointing, my lady, I remember.

Mr Nel is asking why he remembers.

"Yes I remember firing shots ... I didn't count the shots, I was terrified firing my firearm."

Back to the main game - the murder charge, the shooting of Reeva Steenkamp.

Mr Nel asks whether the four shots were fired as two "double-taps".

"(No, I fired) in quick succession," Pistorius says.

You remember that? It's not a reconstruction? No, Pistorius remembers.

Prosecutor Nel leans against bar table's lectern, twirling glasses in right hand, as he meticulously examines Oscar Pistorius. He's enjoying it.

He laughs out loud to Pistorius' failed memory at a question.

He apologises for laughing, but he wasn't the only one. Particular amusement from the Steenkamp end of the court.

Judge Masipa addresses gallery: Do you possibly think this is entertainment? It is not.


Pistorius categorically denies he fired the gun out of the sunroof.

"That story was fabricated, that never happened," he said, adding they had mixed up their dates, times etc.

Mr Nel makes the point that given the variety of the differences in their verison, it was "a terrible fabrication".


Pistorius mentions "another day" with Samantha Taylor when he signed gun papers. He implies she, and perhaps state, may have facts mixed up.

Pistorius is no fan of his former girlfriend: "She lied in her statement and she lied when she was up here, my lady."

After the altercation with the policeman over his firearm, Pistorius said he looked around for the bullet ejected by the officer.

It's at this point both Mr Fresco and Ms Taylor say Pistorius started shouting at the officer.

However Pistorius says he was in fact very wary of the police officer, saying he was behaving aggressively and unprofessionally.

Interesting to see how Pistorius is going to explain how come both his friends are wrong.

He's just admitted his weapon was "one up" all day, when he was at the "get together" on the boat at the Vaal river, and driving around with his friends.

Pistorius makes the point that he carries his gun everywhere for his own safety. Reinforces his feeling of vulnerability.

"I can't say if I had a shirt, didn't have a shirt, whether it was visible, not visible," Pistorius says.

He gives the impression he is tiring of the questions.

Pistorius says his firearm was "on his person" and concealed. He has to say that, because it's the law.

But Nel asks him what he was wearing, and he says shorts but not sure about a t-shirt.

The prosecutor is incredulous that he can be trying to say his weapon was concealed, as it's a bit hard to conceal a firearm in just shorts and no shirt.

Pistorius says he "can't remember" that day.

Pistorius says he took his firearm with him "wherever I was" and took it to the get-together at the Vaal river because otherwise he'd have to leave it in the car.

He says if he jumped into the water for his swim, he left his gun wrapped in his towel on the boat.

"You don't think THAT's negligent?" Mr Nel asks incredulously.

"I did not believe so, no," Pistorius replies.

His voice has gone quiet again.

Mr Nel: "It's the strangest day today, you don't want to take responsibility for anything."

Pistorius now agrees it could be negligent.

Mr Nel now moves to the third gun charge. This is the one in which Darren Fresco and Samantha Taylor say he became enraged after the group were pulled over by the police, and he argued with an officer about his gun, and so he fired a bullet out the open sunroof of the speeding car.

Pistorius flat-out denies it occurred.

After another long-winded explanation that doesn't quite address the question, Mr Nel pauses and says: "Are you done?"

Pistorius sets his jaw and simply says he is.

Mr Nel is spending lots of time on the evidence about the gun charges and questions surrounding them, because he wants to prove Pistorius is negligent, reckless and careless.

He's making some inroads. Pistorius has admitted "sometimes" he forgets to put his gun's magazine in the safe. The night he shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp just happened to be one of them (it's in the crime scene photographs we've seen in court)

Mr Nel asks if, now that he knows it's against the law to keep ammunition that's not his, would he plead guilty?

He says he'd have to consult lawyers.

Mr Nel says Pistorius is "a gun enthusiast. You come from a family with lots of guns. Fifty or more, I read somewhere? How could you not know the law?"

The prosecutor is back to his oft-repeated refrain: "I just don't understand why you have pleaded not guilty. You just don't want to take responsibility!"

Pistorius repeats for about the third time that he believed he was allowed to keep the ammunition for his father.

"My understanding is if someone wants to place ammunition in a place of safety they are entitled to do so," he says.

Mr Nel manages to get an implication that by Henk Pistorius not giving a statement in support of his son's version about the ammunition, the athlete is again lying.

Pistorius is now being accused of blaming his legal team for thie third time for failing to do something.

Mr Roux remains unmoved at the bar table.

Pistorius tells the court his father put ammunition in his safe for "safe keeping".

"He asked me if he could keep his ammunition in my safe, I told him he was welcome to."

Pistorius and his father are not close, and Mr Nel said his father "refused" to make a statement in this case.

He nitpicked, picked up minor errors, and ducks in and around Pistorius' version.

Few minor points, nothing major.

We move to the ammunition charge now, the subject of a third firearm charge.

As a reminder: Pistorius faces a murder charge, a shooting charge over the Tasha's incident, a shooting charge over the sunroof charge and keeping .38 ammunition for a gun he didn't own.

We return to the WhatsApp messages...

Pistorius now admits he also carries his gun "one up" - meaning there is one in bullet in the chamber.

So Mr Nel asks why he was so surprised when Darren Fresco did the same.

Pistorius says he wouldn't have carried Mr Fresco's gun "one up", because it wouldn't be safe.

Mr Nel has now suggested Pistorius wanted to conceal the truth about the Tasha's incident.

He almost agrees - says he did take responsibility by offering to pay for damages, but didn't want it to come out to "the whole world."

We're back underway, and Mr Nel continues asking about the Tasha's incident.

For those who don't know, Tasha's is a popular chain of restaurants around South Africa, popular with young people.

The one in Pretoria may or may not have been attended by visiting international reporters, covering Pistorius case...

Pistorius reiterates that he did not pull the trigger, this time adding: "I didn’t have time to think.”

Nel pounces: Ah, so that’s one of your defences.

Pistorius used the same expression when discussing the shooting of the toilet door. 

We take the morning tea adjournment, which will be about 20 minutes.

Pistorius says he will not accept that "perhaps" his finger was on the trigger.

The athlete still answers monotonously, and clearly does not want Nel to get one up on him. But he could be digging a hole for himself.

The "miracle" of the "immaculate explosion" could come back to haunt him.


Mr Nel is still going; asks if it "bothered" Pistorius that the gun went off.

He says he was, as somebody could have been seriously hurt.

"So everything bothered you except this miracle that this gun went on its own?" Nel counters.

Pistorius sticks to his line, but Nel pushes again: "I'm not going to move away from this so easily... It is troubling that you do not want to take responsibility."

Curious that Pistorius is fighting so hard on the gun charges. By pleading not guilty, he has opened himself up to all these questions, repeated allegations he is a liar, and all the ensuing character evidence. And, as local law reporter Karyn Maughan just tweeted, it didn't need to be so hard:

It might seem like we're going around in circles, but the prosecution is chipping away at Pistorius' credibility and Mr Nel is taking great delight in it.

"This is so amazing - you (say you) took the blame, accepted responsiblity, but nobody can remember it," he says with glee, referring to the evidence that nobody else present said he did.

Mr Nel says the reason Mr Roux never asked anyone about it was because Pistorius has never given that version before - that he did not have his finger on the trigger.

"You fired the shot, you had your finger on the trigger," Mr Nel says.

"As I said my lady, I did not have my finger on the trigger," Pistorius replies wearily.

Captain Mangena's evidence was that it was impossible for the gun Pistorius had in Tasha's to discharge unless someone pulls the trigger.

Mr Nel says Mr Roux never challenged this evidence - but Pistorius says his finger was not on the trigger, and he doesn't know why his counsel didn't ask the question.

Mr Roux is leaning back on his chair, glasses in his hand. He looks toward his client, listening intently.

Pistorius looks across the court at his counsel, and Mr Nel gets to his point.

"You see, Mr Pistorius, you will blame anybody else but yourself, won't you," he said.

"I don't blame Mr Roux, I said I'm not sure what questions (he asked)," Pistorius replies.

Oscar Pistorius says both he and Darren Fresco were "negligent" in the handling of the gun.

We now move to the Tasha's restaurant shooting, Mr Nel asking why he has pleaded not guilty.

The athlete says it's because he didn't discharge the firearm - even though he had it in his hand when it fired.

"I don't remember having my finger on the trigger," he says.

Nel: So we have you in possession of a gun. A shot went off ... but you did not discharge the gun?

OP: That's correct.

Nel: So who discharged it?

OP: The firearm discharged as I was trying to keep the firearm safe.

Nel: Ok. Good. So I must accept that the gun went off by itself?

Giggles in court.

Mr Nel addresses a point many have made - the fights, anger and issues were out of place in a three month relationship.

"It was an argument we had that lasted one message," Pistorius protests.

Points out the next day Reeva wrote "hello Ozzie" with a smiley face.

So Mr Nel is analysing the messages a week before Ms Steenkamp's death. In the message, she wrote: "I'm a person too."

Pistorius says he "knows for a fact" Reeva wouldn't have been with him if he treated her badly.

Pistoirus: "I understand that she felt like I didn't treat her like she should have been ... she shouldn't have been treated as anything less than a lady."

Pistorius looks quite small and lawyer-like in the witness box. He is turned towards the judge, not looking at Mr Nel.

Mr Nel admits to not knowing Kendrick Lamar, but suggest a song that caused their row was titled "Bitch don't kill my vibe".

In her message, Reeva says: "I'm not some bitch trying to kill your vibe"

Pistorius says he doesn't know if Kendrick Lamar has a song called that, but admits it could have upset Reeva.

Mr Nel says it will be his argument that while the first lines are an apology, the rest is Pistorius blaming Reeva for the fight.

OP: I wasn't try to shed the blame onto someone, I was trying to shed light.

Nel: you first apologise, then blame her, then apologise again. That's what your relationship was about.

Pistorius says no that's not true.

Oh dear - Judge Masipa very cross at a Pistorius lawyer's phone going off in court. He apologises, we move on.

The last line of Reeva's message to Pistorius is "... coz right now I know u aren't happy and I am certainly very unhappy and sad".

Now Mr Nel moves onto the athlete's response - says in addressing her concerns, he is actually "blaming her".

"You're replying to her unhappiness but you are blaming her," he says.

Pistorius says no he wasn't.

Mr Nel now suggests that Pistorius was in fact "humiliating" his girlfriend by his criticism of her accent, and other behaviour, telling her to stop chewing gum etc.

Pistorius says he doesn't think it was humiliating to tell her to not chewing gum, but perhaps the comment about her not touching his neck may have been.

Mr Nel is trying to drive home the state's point that the athlete is an egomaniac, selfish, moody man who cared only for himself.

Says Pistorius was clearly strong enough in the relationship to tell her to stop chewing gum, and be critical of her.

Pistorius defends his criticism of the gum-chewing, saying she did it at an event where they were being filmed and it "doesn't look good on camera".

Ms Steenkamp also made reference to Pistorius attacking her for her accent, and the voices she put on.

Nel: That's terrible, did you tell her that her accent was terrible?

OP: Yes I did, my lady.

Mr Nel suggests it was the state of the couple's relationship by January 26, 2013 that Pistorius effectively had his girl and wasn't trying any more.

"If that's how she felt, maybe I made her feel it."

Moving onto Reeva's point in her text message that she had planned to tell him the coming weekend that she loved him, Mr Nel points out he doesn't address this in his reply.

But Pistorius makes a fair point: "I would never want to tell anyone 'I love' them for the first time over text message."

He says the next message he wrote started "I want to talk to you, I want sort this out."

Mr Nel asking about notes OP passed to his lawyers fairly regularly in trial, says he was "very active."

So if Samantha Taylor was lying, why didn't he tell them?

Pistorius says he can't remember if he sent a note or not.

But Mr Nel says Pistorius' lawyer didn't challenge Ms Taylor's claim about screaming "because it was true."

Pistorius says maybe Mr Roux couldn't keep up...


We have now moved onto Pistorius' ex-girlfriend, Samantha Taylor and her evidence to the court that Pistorius once screamed at her.

He denies it happened, and says "a lot" of what she had said "were lies."

Mr Nel now asks why Reeva would have been "scared" of his tantrums.

"I hurt her feelings (but) I didn't shout or scream at her," Pistorius says.

Pistorius: I’ve never thrown a tantrum in front of people. Reeva was upset and exaggerated some of the things she said.

Nel: Is Reeva lying?

Pistorius: That's not what I'm saying...

(Although the prosecutor is highly likely to suggest that's exactly what he's saying...)

Mr Nel now points out the line in which Reeva says she did everything to make "YOU" happy.

"You throw tantrums in front of people," says Mr Nel, reading.

"Tell me about tantrums?"

In the message, Reeva also describes the couple as living "a double standard relationship".

Mr Nel asks if that's true.

"This is the first time she's mentioned (that)," he said.


Mr Nel is slowly picking away at the double-amputee athlete. He is going over and over the message Ms Steenkamp sent Pistorius after the row they had at friend Darren Fresco's engagement party, trying to highlight the reasons behind some of the things the 29-year-old model said.

Pistorius is somewhat defensive, saying "he had plans" - but Mr Nel seizes on that too, saying it's all about him.

Mr Nel: You say it wasn't a big issue. But ... she sat down and wrote this. It was a big issue for her?

OP: But I didn't respond asking when I can call. It wasn't like I didn't want to resolve this.

Referring to the messages, Mr Nel says Ms Steenkamp says "you picked on her incessantly.".

OP: I don't think I did, maybe we were having a rough time...

Mr Nel now refers to an incident the night before, which Reeva refers to in the message as being when "the drama that attacked us".

Pistorius says he doesn't remember what they did that night.

As Mr Nel takes him to one of the couple's fights via the WhatsApp message service, Pistorius says his defence case will hear from witnesses who will support his view that the couple were happy and love.

"I didn't pick on Reeva. I was good to her."

We are barely 10 minutes into the evidence and Mr Nel has got Pistorius in tears about his oddly-timed apology to the Steenkamp family at the start of his evidence, and his relationship with her.

Mr Nel points out that in his apology he doesn't actually say sorry "for killing Reeva".

Pistorius also tells the court a relative had been in touch with the Steenkamp family's legal representatives, but they did not wish to meet with him.

Mr Nel asks if he thought about how that would be like for them, in the glare of the public.

Pistorius says he did: "It must be very difficult them to look at somebody who took their daughter's life and apologise."

And you do it when the whole world? Every person listening to this, it's appropriate to do it then?

OP: "I'm not sure if it was not appropriate but that's what I thought was best."

Pistorius says he never got to meet Reeva's parents, and fights back tears as he says he understands why they would never want to do it now.

Mr Nel now asks Pistorius why he began his evidence with an apology, more than a year after. What did you apologise for?

Did you feel better after the apology?

"I don't think I could feel better, but I haven't had the opportunity to apologise to them, it's something I wanted to do for a very long time and it's the right thing to do," he said.

Mr Nel asks why he chose to "make a spectacle" in court, rather than apologise privately.

But Mr Nel says there were arguments, too and "they were all about you".

Pistorius says they had their arguments, but they were not a big deal and their relationship became stronger as a result.

Mr Nel says the phrase I love you appeared twice in Reeva's WhatsApp messages - both times, she wrote the words to her mother.

"She never wrote that to you, and you never wrote it to her," Mr Nel said.

Pistorius: "I never got the opportunity to tell Reeva that I loved her."


We are underway and Mr Nel resumes his questioning, highlighting the fact that only Oscar and Reeva were in the house that night.

"The other person was killed by you, so you're the only one (who can tell us what happend)," he said.

He asks Pistorius to explain the couple's relationship.

"I would describe my relationship with good, we were in the foundation phase of our relationship ... we were starting to trust each other more and more and learn more about each other," he says in his now-familiar soft monotone.

Mrs Steenkamp is back in court today. Her husband, Reeva's father, has not attended his daughter's killer's trial, as it's understood he is not well enough to attend.

As always, the front row on the defence side of the court is packed with family and friends of the fallen Paralympic track hero.

His sister Aimee, uncle Arnold, aunt Lois and at least ten others have crowded onto the hard wooden bench just behind the dock. No sign of his brother Carl just yet, but he often arrives later in the morning.

Overnight, London's Daily Mirror newspaper published an interview with June Steenkamp, Reeva's mother, who described the athlete as having gone "from hero to devil" after killing her daughter on Valentine's Day last year.

She told the paper she didn't know if Pistorius' frequent bouts of "vomiting and crying" in court were an act, but it had been very public.

"I don't know whether he's acting," she said. "Most of the time he's on his mobile phone or looking down at papers or writing notes."

The heartbroken mother feels her presence unnerves Pistorius because he's answerable to her.

"I don't know the man. All I know is what he's done," she said. "He must see me there in the court, he must feel my eyes boring into him, I think it makes a lot of difference."

Ms Steenkamp admitted she probably looked at the 27-year-old too much to see how he was reacting. But she added: "I don't care what happens to Oscar, I don't even care if he goes free.

"All I know is that he has to stand up to what he's done and - if he has to - pay for it ... What difference is it going to make to me if he goes to prison for 25 years or is allowed to walk free?"

It was an incredibly dramatic day yesterday, punctuated by the horrifying image of Reeva Steenkamp being broadcast around the globe as the prosecutor, Gerrie Nel, launched a blistering attack on the athlete.

Many had been waiting to see Mr Nel in action, with his reputation as a fierce cross-examiner well-known in Pretoria. And he didn't disappoint.