Oscar Pistorius: defence on top as magistrate hints at bail
Laughter in court as police officer says he believes Blade Runner could flee the country
OSCAR PISTORIUS will find out on Thursday whether he is to be granted bail over the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp when the hearing enters a third day.
The sprinter's defence team appeared to gain the upper hand during a gripping second day of evidence, and BBC correspondent Andrew Harding tweeted that he overheard a member of the prosecution whisper "we're in terrible trouble".
During the afternoon session the prosecution even suffered the indignity of being laughed at in court and the magistrate appeared to drop a hint about which way the hearing was going.
Desmond Nair intervened during questioning to ask police officer Hilton Botha if he thought Pistorius would skip bail. "The accused before court is an international athlete, paralympic athlete, he uses prosthesis on both legs. I'm sure we would both agree that his face is widely recognised internationally. Do you subjectively believe that he would take the opportunity, being who he is, using prosthetics to get around, to flee South Africa?" he asked.
When Botha replied "yes" there was laughter.
Nair then asked. "Do you think it's possible that a person who has won Olympic golds would want to forsake his career when he has a chance to prove his innocence in a court of law?" Botha's reply was to insist that the threat of jail was "no joke".
During the morning session, defence lawyer Barry Roux unpicked much of the prosecution case and even lured Botha into admitting that a witness who heard screams before the shooting lived 600m away . However, Botha later withdrew that answer and insisted that she lived just 300m from the scene of the shooting.
Alex Thompson of Channel 4 News likened the defence's counterattack to the "infamous rope-a-dope boxing strategy". The prosecution case had been "shouted from the streets and the rooftops by the media" he said, but now the defence was fighting back.
And sympathy appears to be growing for the Blade Runner. Andrew Harding of the BBC spent the day sitting just inches away from Pistorius. "He is a man in deep trauma and it is hard, regardless of what he did or did not do, not to feel and respond to his anguish," he said. ·