In Brief

Oscar Pistorius out of legal options as request to appeal rejected

Former star athlete loses bid to cut 13-year jail term for murder of Reeva Steenkamp

Oscar Pistorius: When is his TV interview and what will be revealed?

24 June

Oscar Pistorius's first television interview since he shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp will be broadcast tonight.

The former Paralympian is awaiting re-sentencing after the original verdict of culpable homicide was changed to murder by South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal last December. He faces the prospect of a 15-year prison term.

The interview, which took place at his uncle's mansion in Pretoria, where Pistorius is under house arrest, will be shown on ITV at 9pm.

Speaking to investigative journalist Mark Williams-Thomas, the athlete says Steenkamp would not want him to waste his life behind bars.

"If I was afforded the opportunity of redemption, I would like to help the less fortunate," he says. "I would like to believe if Reeva could look down upon me she would want me to live that life."

Pistorius also expresses sadness that some believe he intentionally killed the model, a claim that was never proven in court.

"If their premise is based on the fact that I took her life intentionally, which has not been found, then it's a very sad thing," he says. 

"I understand the pain people feel that loved her and miss her. I feel that same pain. And I look back and I think, I always think, 'How did this possibly happen?' I think, 'How could this have happened? How could this have happened?'"

In addition, Pistorius gives his account of what happened on Valentine's Day 2013, when he shot through his bathroom door and killed Steenkamp.

"He also talks about his relationship with Reeva, the allegations of his previous abusive behaviour towards her and his previous use of firearms," says ITV.

He has admitted shooting the 29-year-old several times through the locked door, saying he thought she was an intruder.

In closing arguments last year, the prosecution accused Pistorius of being a "deceitful witness" who had told a "snowball of lies".

Pistorius's uncle, Arnold, has said the interview was his idea and not that of his nephew.

He added that the family had been "deeply respectful of the legal process and mindful not to contribute to the media frenzy", despite receiving "many, many requests" for interviews, often coupled with "huge financial inducements".

However, it was now time for his nephew to address "some of the misconceptions that have remained unchallenged", he said.

The Steenkamp family reportedly refused ITV's request to take part in the programme.  

Steenkamp's cousin, Kim Martin, condemned Pistorius at his re-sentencing hearing last week for choosing to give a television interview instead of speaking in court.

"I am not happy about that at all," she said. "It's very unfair to want to talk to the world when you have had the opportunity in court to do so. It's hurtful and I can't understand why."

Oscar Pistorius: Graphic images of Steenkamp's dead body released

16 June

Graphic images of Reeva Steenkamp’s dead body after she was killed by Oscar Pistorius have been released after her family said they wanted "the world to see" what had happened to her.

Judge Thokozile Masipa granted the application from chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel, who said: "Isn’t it time we now finally let the world see what this accused did with four black talon rounds through a door?"

The pictures (warning: some readers may find these images distressing) show Steenkamp's fatal wounds, including a severe head injury. They had previously been withheld from the public in order to "protect the integrity of the deceased", says The Independent.

Giving evidence at Pistorius's sentencing hearing on Tuesday, Reeva's father, Barry, said he had seen "only one photo" of his daughter’s body, an image produced in court two years ago, but wanted the others to be shown as a warning about the dangers of firearms.

"I want the world to see. I want the world to see the photos of the wounds inflicted on her. To know my daughter’s pain. To know what her last few seconds were like, so that this is stopped - so that others do not have to go through this ever," he told the court.

Making the application, Nel argued: "The court should have access to these photographs. The court itself should revisit certain things in sentencing."

"Four bullets tore through her body. The court should take that into account as an aggravating factor… It’s part of sentencing.

"We think it’s time that people should see what those bullets did; what the accused did."

Defence lawyer Barry Roux argued the application was inappropriate at this stage of the proceedings.

"Must children look at it?," he asked. "What is going to be achieved?"

Pistorius's brother, Carl, tweeted that the request was "distasteful".

The release of the images came at the end of an emotional day, with the former Paralympian walking across the courtroom without his prosthesis to exhibit his vulnerability.

He faces a mandatory sentence of 15 years, minus time already served, unless his defence team can prove "substantial and compelling circumstances" for a shorter period.

Pistorius has already served one year in prison and is currently under correctional supervision at his uncle's house in Pretoria. His conviction of culpable homicide was overturned by the Court of Appeal last December and changed to murder.

Pistorius has always argued he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder.

Judge Masipa will announce the new sentence on 6 July.

Oscar Pistorius: Don't feel 'undue sympathy' for killer, says prosecutor

15 June

State prosecutors have called for Oscar Pistorius to serve at least 15 years in prison for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, saying there must be "truly convincing reasons for a different response."  

Speaking at the Paralympian's sentencing hearing in Pretoria, Gerrie Nel told the court that house arrest, which Pistorius has been under since leaving prison last October, "is not even close" to the punishment required.

"Undue sympathy is not an aspect that should be taken into consideration," he added, reading from the legal regulations.

Nel also referred to a request from Steenkamp's father, Barry, to have the crime scene photos published. "Isn't it time we now finally let the world see what this accused did with four black talon rounds through a door?" he said.

Pistorius faces a minimum sentence of 15 years for killing Steenkamp on Valentine's Day 2013, after his original conviction of culpable homicide was changed to murder last December. The term may be reduced due to the year he has already spent in prison and mitigating factors.

Defence attorney Barry Roux, pleading for leniency, called on Pistorius to remove his prosthetic legs and walk across the room to show how vulnerable he is, a feat which left the former athlete in tears.

"He goes from being a fully grown, fit-looking man to suddenly being incredibly vulnerable, someone who you can push over with a hand," says Sky News correspondent Alex Crawford. "That's what he (Roux) wanted to show. I think that will play very heavily with the judge."

However, the public appeared less convinced by the dramatic scene, which some described as a "cheap shot".

Roux also argued that Steenkamp's murder had "nothing to do with gender violence" – Pistorius has long maintained that he believed her to be an intruder – and that there would be "no purpose served" in him going to prison.

The court also heard an emotional testimony from Steenkamp's cousin, Kim Martin, who said she did not believe the model had ever been in love with Pistorius. 

She added that celebrations such as birthdays and Christmas had become a "funeral" since Steenkamp's death. "Valentine's Day is the worst day for us," she said.

Oscar Pistorius: Reeva Steenkamp's father wants world to see her wounds

15 June

Reeva Steenkamp's father has said he wants the world to see the wounds and the pain inflicted on his daughter, who was shot dead by boyfriend Oscar Pistorius in 2013.

In an emotional testimony at Pistorius's sentencing hearing today, Barry Steenkamp said the murder had "devastated" the family and changed their lives completely.

"Every day of my life – morning, noon, night - I think of her all the time," he told the court in Pretoria.

Steenkamp suffered several strokes after the death of his daughter and missed much of the original trial on the advice of his doctor.

He added that he cannot mix with people anymore and sits on his veranda until the early hours of the morning smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee.

He said the family was "extremely proud" of Reeva, who was about to star on the television show Tropica and hadn't yet told her father about her relationship with Pistorius.

"When at times I think about how she suffered when I was at home, my knuckles would shake, and I just couldn't imagine the pain," he said.

"A lot of people will disagree with me and think that I'm callous... But what I would like the world to see are the wounds inflicted on to Reeva and the pain she must have gone through, so the world can see this."

Steenkamp told the court he and Reeva's mother, June, had forgiven Pistorius in order to carry on with their lives, but that the former Paralympian had to pay for his actions.

"I don't want to say that he has to go to the maximum... But he has to pay for it," he said.

Pistorius faces a mandatory sentence of 15 years, minus time already served, unless his defence team can prove "substantial and compelling circumstances" for a shorter period.

He has served one year in prison and is currently under correctional supervision at his uncle's house in Pretoria. His conviction of culpable homicide was overturned last December and changed to murder by the Court of Appeal.

Pistorius has always argued that he had mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder.

Oscar Pistorius 'traumatised' by the sound of guns  

13 June 

Oscar Pistorius is "traumatised" by the sound of guns, even in films, and never wants to handle a firearm again, a psychologist has said in the athlete's sentencing hearing.

 

Jonathan Scholtz was first to testify in the hearing, which began today at the High Court in front of Judge Thokozile Masipa, who presided over the original trial.

 

The former Paralympian was convicted in 2014 of culpable homicide after shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. He was allowed out of prison after a year to complete his five-year sentence under correctional supervision at his uncle's house in Pretoria.

 

However, his conviction was overturned last year, when he was found guilty of murder at the Court of Appeal. Pistorius has always argued that he had mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder.                                                                                                                  

As a witness for the defence, Scholtz today argued that sending Pistorius back to prison would not be psychologically and socially constructive.

 

The athlete was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, an anxiety disorder and a depressive disorder following Steenkamp's death.

 

"His psychological condition has worsened since he was first evaluated in 2014… It is my considered opinion, that further imprisonment would hamper his development," Scholtz told the court.

 

In cross-examination, state prosecutor Gerrie Nel suggested Pistorius had showed no remorse and simply felt sorry for himself, which prompted Scholtz to say the Paralympian had admitted intentionally shooting at the closed door of his toilet cubicle, thinking he would kill the intruder who he believed to be hiding there.

 

Nel pointed out that this was the first time the court had heard the admission, but acknowledged Scholtz's testimony could not be accepted as a court finding in the sentencing stage.

 

The hearing is expected to finish by 24 June.

 

Oscar Pistorius: Steenkamp's father expected to give evidence

13 June

Oscar Pistorius this week faces sentencing for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, with her father expected to give evidence for the first time.

Barry Steenkamp, who suffered several strokes after his daughter's death, missed much of the original trial on the advice of his doctor.

He is due to ask for the Paralympian to be given a lengthy sentence, reports the Sunday Telegraph.

"Mr Steenkamp is expected to take to the witness box as the 'final ace' up the prosecution's sleeve in its lengthy bid to have the world-famous sprinter held to account," says the newspaper.

One source said it would be a "very powerful and emotional testimony".

Pistorius, who shot dead his girlfriend on Valentine's Day in 2013, saying he mistook her for an intruder, is due in court today. 

His original culpable homicide conviction was overturned and changed to murder by the Supreme Court of Appeal in December. He is currently under correctional supervision at his uncle's house in Pretoria after serving one year in prison.

Under South African law, murder carries a mandatory sentence of 15 years unless there are "substantial and compelling circumstances".

An interview with Pistorius will be aired on 24 June once the sentencing is due to be completed.

Oscar Pistorius film to be introduced at Cannes

9 May 2016

A new feature documentary about Oscar Pistorius looks set to be introduced to distributors in Cannes this week.

According to Variety, Content Media has picked up the international sales rights to the film, which follows the journey of Pistorius from Olympic hero to convicted murderer.

It has been described as "Making a Murderer meets Senna – a riveting true-crime story about a beloved sports icon".

Mr Calzaghe director Vaughan Sivell is at the helm and also co-producing it alongside Sean Richard for Western Edge Pictures and the Gennaker Group.

Content Media says the film will seek to discover the truth about the public image of Pistorius and his murdered girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

"Oscar Pistorius captured and then broke our hearts," says Jamie Carmichael, the president of Content Film, the company's sales arm. "Vaughan has struck a controversial nerve with his timely investigation of the man, the trial and country behind one of the most complex and compelling stories of our times."

The feature is expected to be delivered in full by early 2017.

"For us, it's the story of South Africa alongside the story of Oscar. It's so cinematic, it's a real once-in-a-lifetime project in terms of scale," said Sivell earlier this year.

According to Screen Daily, the film will be made in collaboration with Daily Telegraph journalist Gareth A Davies, who has known Pistorius since he was 16. The production also hopes to interview the Paralympian as well as the Steenkamp family.

"The appeal ruling starts with the line, 'This is a tragedy of Shakespearean scale.' It's fascinating to me that a judge was to write that," said Sivell. "The story mirrors when [Nelson] Mandela was released and we saw this nation of reliance and courage and now there is so much violence and corruption. [Pistorius] self-destructs in a way the country of South Africa destructs… There are so many levels to it. It's what makes great films."

Oscar Pistorius's family hits out at 'astonishing' new claims

27 April

New claims that Oscar Pistorius assaulted girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp before shooting her have been dismissed as absurd by the Paralympian's family.

Pistorius has always maintained that he believed there was a dangerous intruder in his toilet cubicle when he fired into its door and killed Steenkamp, a version of events accepted by original trial judge, Thokozile Masipa.

However, in their book, Oscar vs the Truth, amateur investigators Thomas and Calvin Mollett claim there is evidence to suggest Pistorius battered his girlfriend with a cricket bat and shot her with an air gun before killing her with a revolver.

Among what The Sun describes as "astonishing" claims, the brothers say a 4.5mm hole in the bedroom door and a wound of a similar size on Steenkamp's upper left arm appear to match the calibre of an air gun owned by Pistorius.

They also claim that the couple were fighting for more than an hour before the shooting and that neighbour Estelle van der Merwe, who told the trial she had heard "loud voices" coming from the house, would have been in the "perfect" position to witness the events.

Writing in their book, the brothers said: "One gets the impression that police arrived on the scene and thought they had an open-and-shut case against Oscar.

"They knew he pulled the trigger, and had statements from the neighbours who heard a woman scream – why bother doing a proper forensic investigation."

Speaking to the Metro, Pistorius's uncle, Arnold, described the allegations as "absurd".

"The court found it completely differently," he said, suggesting that the authors could not have read nor understood the trial findings as "every little detail" was explored.

Experts testified that Steenkamp had suffered injuries from bullet fragments, as well as wood splinters from the toilet door and pieces of her own bone. A hole in the bedroom door has also previously been put down to projectiles and it was agreed by the prosecutors and defence that Pistorius used the cricket bat to break down the toilet door.

In her final judgment, the judge said Merwe had been "in and out of sleep" and had "no idea" where the voices she heard came from, what language was being spoken or what was being said.

"Accordingly, there is nothing in the evidence of Ms van der Merwe that links what sounded like an argument to her to the incident at the house of the accused," she concluded.

In a statement, Pistorius family reiterated that it was "totally absurd" to suggest the state would have overlooked evidence to suggest the athlete had used his cricket bat for anything other than bashing open the door.

"This is yet another attention-seeking, money making exercise – this time by two citizens with detective fantasies [who] manufacture sensational nonsense theories," they said. "It is of course also highly convenient for these two armchair sleuths to manufacture sensational nonsense theories without having to prove them in a court of law or to expose them to cross-examination."

The family said that anybody with an "iota of understanding" of the actual facts of this case, as tested by a court of law, would be able to point out the "gaping holes in their so-called theories".

Pistorius is due to be sentenced in June for the murder of Steenkamp, after his original conviction of culpable homicide was changed to murder.

Oscar Pistorius: Electronic tracking device is faulty

18 April

Oscar Pistorius's legal team has complained that his electronic tracking device is faulty.

The Paralympian, who is currently serving a five-year sentence for culpable homicide under correctional supervision at his uncle's house in Pretoria, made an appearance at the High Court in Pretoria this morning.

He had been due to receive a new sentence after his original conviction was overturned by South Africa's Supreme Court in December in favour of a guilty verdict. However, proceedings have now been postponed until 13 June.

During today's hearing, the defence team said the electronic tagging device kept incorrectly sending warnings to Pistorius that he had violated his bail conditions while he was at home.

"We are currently on the third device which is‚ my Lord‚ still giving violation warnings while he is at home. The accused is keeping proper logs of all these warnings that come through‚" advocate Samantha Jackson said.

She was told that correctional officers would be able to look into the matter.

Pistorius's bail conditions were slightly relaxed today. Instead of a six-mile radius from home, he can now travel freely within a 12-mile radius between 7am and noon each day. If he wants to travel further afield, he now only needs permission from the police investigating officer in his case rather than the Department of Correctional Services.

Pistorius's application for leave to appeal his conviction has been refused and he now faces a minimum sentence of 15 years, although his defence team may try to provide substantial and compelling reasons to cut this down.

The athlete served one-sixth of his five-year sentence in prison before he was released in October to serve the rest under correctional supervision.

He has always denied intentionally killing Steenkamp on Valentine's Day in 2013 and said he mistook her for a dangerous intruder. In his original trial, Judge Thokozile Masipa accepted his version of events.

The judges at the Supreme Court described her death as "a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions".

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