Pretoria (AFP) – The prosecution completed its cross-examination of Oscar Pistorius Tuesday, ending five emotional days of intense interrogation that raised serious doubts about the star Paralympian’s version of what happened on the night he shot dead his model girlfriend.
“I have nothing further for this witness,” said prosecution lawyer Gerrie Nel, after relentless questioning into the moments after the athlete killed Reeva Steenkamp at his upmarket home on Valentine’s Day 2013.
The 27-year-old hugged his younger sister Aimee at the end of questioning that saw him break down in tears several times.
In the public gallery other relieved members of his family appeared to congratulate each other.
Nel spent five days dragging Pistorius over the coals, accusing him of lying, tailoring evidence and crying to avoid tough questions.
Inconsistencies in Pistorius’s account, his sometimes evasive answers and sketchy memory of some details may have left his case in a weaker position than when he took the stand.
Nel “managed to elicit conflicting versions from Oscar” according to David Dadic, a South African lawyer not involved in the case. “He definitely achieved what he set out to achieve.”
Nel began his questioning in shocking fashion, demanding Pistorius acknowledge that killing Steenkamp was more than a mere “mistake,” while forcing the disconsolate athlete to look at gruesome images of her blood mottled head.
“You made a mistake? You killed a person, that’s what you did!” he thundered.
“You shot and killed her, won’t you take responsibility for that?”
Nel — nicknamed “the bulldog” for his tenacious courtroom style — continued five days of questions in a similar vein, picking at inconsistencies between Pistorius’s evidence in court and his lengthy bail application.
“You are thinking of a version constantly and not dealing with the question,” he said.
“It’s getting more and more improbable and you’re tailoring more and more as we go on.”
Pistorius blamed his legal team for inconsistencies between his accounts and claimed police moved key pieces of evidence that appeared to incriminate him.
Through the questioning the state revealed the most detailed account so far of its case.
It claims the couple argued before the shooting, which is why neighbors heard “blood-curdling screams.”
“They heard that when she escaped from you,” said Nel.
“She was locked in the bathroom and you armed yourself with the sole purpose of shooting and killing her,” he added, accusing Pistorius of shouting at Steenkamp “get the fuck out of my house.”
“You shot four shots through the door whilst knowing she was behind the door,” Nel claimed.
Afterwards the 27-year-old was overcome with guilt, according to the state.
The athlete denied the version, and the premeditated murder charge. He claims he shot the model and aspiring TV actress after mistaking her for an intruder.
The defense is now expected to call a slew of expert witnesses to show that the state’s version of events could not be true.
Earlier, legal teams for the prosecution and the defense both called for a two week adjournment beginning on Friday.
“My colleague has a matter she has to deal with,” said Nel.
“We have matters to deal with but there is also certain personal things that we have arranged that have been arranged all before this trial started.”
The proposal would see court resume on May 5.
Pistorius’s attorney Barry Roux indicated the defence may finish calling its witnesses by mid-May if the postponement is granted.
Judge Thokozile Masipa said she would consider the request and rule on Wednesday.
If the defense concludes its case by mid-May another postponement is likely before concluding arguments.
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