Pistorius Lawyers Say Australian TV Video Obtained IllegallyJohn Bowker and Kevin Crowley
Paralympian Oscar Pistorius’s murder trial resumes today after his lawyers said an Australian television station illegally obtained footage of the athlete re-enacting how he killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
The video, aired by Channel Seven’s Sunday Night current affairs program, shows double-amputee Pistorius, 27, acting out events that led to his shooting of Steenkamp at his home on Feb. 14 last year as part of preparation for his trial. Seven West Media Ltd., the Perth, Australia-based company that owns Channel Seven, said the broadcast was the result of an investigation by its journalists and didn’t breach the law.
“It has come to our attention that Channel 7 purchased this footage unlawfully,” Pistorius’s lawyer, Brian Webber, of law firm Ramsay Webber Inc., said in a statement. “For the family, the airing of this footage constitutes a staggering breach of trust and an invasion of the family’s privacy.”
Pistorius is on trial at the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa’s capital, on charges of murdering Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year. Pistorius says he thought Steenkamp was an intruder when he fired four shots through a locked toilet cubicle door in a bathroom at his home. The prosecution says he killed her after an argument. Pistorius would face a minimum of 25 years in jail if convicted of murder.
“This was a significant investigation,” Mark Llewellyn, executive producer of Sunday Night, said in a statement. “We would not have run the footage if we thought we had obtained it illegally.”
The trial was adjourned until tomorrow, with defense lawyer Barry Roux saying he was preparing to end his case.
At the last session on July 3, Wayne Derman, a sports physician who worked with Pistorius, described the athlete as having little “mobility or balance to protect himself.”
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said in his cross-examination that Derman has had a long relationship with Pistorius and was biased. Derman denied the allegation.
Today, when asked if Pistorius planned to fire his weapon, Derman said “it was his intention to shoot. That’s how I understand it.”
During his testimony previously, Pistorius said he fired the gun by accident.
Derman described Pistorius as “hyper-vigilant” with “an exaggerated fight response” and said he had a hand tremor and sleeping disorder.
Roux has portrayed Pistorius as a victim of crime who was in a loving relationship with Steenkamp.
Nel has tried to show Pistorius as a short-tempered gun-lover who shot Steenkamp in a fit of rage.
Pistorius denies the murder charge and has pleaded not guilty to three separate gun-related charges.
Judge Thokozile Masipa, who will give the final judgment in the case because South Africa doesn’t have a jury system, could also consider a lesser charge of culpable homicide if she rules that the act wasn’t intentional.
Known as the Blade Runner because of his J-shaped prosthetic running blades, Pistorius has been free on 1 million rand ($93,000) bail since February last year.
The charges have derailed the running career of the winner of six Paralympic gold medals and cost Pistorius sponsorship deals with Nike Inc., Luxottica Group SpA’s Oakley and Ossur hf, the Icelandic company that manufactures the blades he uses.
Pistorius was the first double amputee to compete at the Olympic Games in London in 2012.