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Dublin: 10 °C Saturday 25 October, 2014

Oscar Pistorius bail hearing adjourned until tomorrow

Today’s hearing threw up many questions: was there testosterone in the house? Did Pistorius call paramedics? Was there a fight between the victim and the defendant? Why was he previously arrested?

Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius stands inside the court as a police officer looks on.
Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius stands inside the court as a police officer looks on.
Image: Themba Hadebe/AP/Press Association Images

OSCAR PISTORIUS’S BAIL application hearing has been adjourned until tomorrow morning.

The 26-year-old athlete will appear for a third day in-a-row at Pretoria Magistrates Court to discover if he will be granted bail under “exceptional circumstances”.

Currently, he stands accused of pre-meditated murder in relation to the shooting dead of 29-year-old model Reeva Steenkamp.

During today’s hearings, the prosecution laid out their case for opposing bail but Pistorius’s lawyer Barry Roux worked hard to discredit most of what they presented.

Reporters tweeting from the courtroom detailed how the State’s case began to unravel as the defence team cross-examined investigating officer Hilton Botha, who even admitted to telling Carl Pistorius that he didn’t see any problem with Oscar being bailed early in the investigation. He later changed his mind on hearing forensic evidence.

He also told the court that he believed it was possible the Olymipan would flee the country. ”I know who he is. I know what he’s done. He’s a great sportsman. But it’s possible.”

In his morning testimony, Botha had shed light on some aspects of the State’s pre-meditated murder case – how officers had found testosterone at the property, how they had witnesses to testify to an hour-long row between the defendant and his girlfriend shortly before the shooting and how the deceased had been wearing sleep shorts and a vest top. The holster for the murder weapon, a 9mm pistol, was also found on the same side of the bed as Steenkamp’s slippers.

Botha said the State opposed bail because they were worried about the suspect fleeing and extradition becoming a problem. He said Pistorius has a house in Italy, as well as offshore accounts.

The court heard the victim suffered three gunshot wounds, one to the elbow which broke her arm, one on the right side of her head (above the ear) and one in the hip.

Charges of possessing an unlicensed gun have been added to Pistorius’s charge sheet as police found an unlicensed .38mm pistol in the house.

Points of Contention

The testosterone

Botha told the magistrate that needles and testosterone were found in a cabinet in the house.

The defence denied this, stating what was found was a herbal remedy. “It’s not a steroid and it’s not a banned substance.”

Investigators conceded that the examination of the product had not been completed yet.

The cell phones

Police officers said they found an iPhone 4 and an iPhone 5 in the bathroom. Neither were used to call the police or ambulance services. There were also two Blackberry’s in the bedroom.

Pistorius’s lawyer Barry Roux pointed out to Botha that police do not have all of his client’s phones and revealed that detectives “never asked him for them”.

In cross-examination, Botha admits that police did not check if Pistorius called Netcare (paramedics).

The alleged fight

A witness for the prosecution claims to have heard a prolonged fight, including loud voices, coming from Pistorius’s home between 2am and 3am on 14 February, just before Steenkamp was shot dead.

It was described as a “non-stop” argument by the witness, who also said he heard between four and six shots.

Roux moved to “rubbish” the witness, according to journalist Aislinn Laing.

The bullets

The prosecution say the bullets went through the top of the door and the gun was fired “down”. Botha also confirmed there is no way in or out of the bathroom, except for the door.

They also noted that “If you’re on the balcony, to get to the bathroom, you have to go through the bedroom, past the bed.”

Priors

Brief details of previous dealings between Pistorius and Botha came to light as the officer confirmed there had been a previous incident at the athlete’s home. In 2009,

A 2009 assault charge was not pursued because it could not be proved. Pistorius is now suing the woman who laid the complaint for malicious prosecution and wrongful arrest. Botha said he believed the defendant at the time.

Self-defence?

Trying to prove the claim that Pistorius fired at Steenkamp after perceiving her to be an intruder, Roux made clear that Reeva suffered no other injuries other than the gunshot wounds.

The victim’s bladder

The defence team focussed on the victim’s empty bladder, suggesting that Pistorius’s claim that she went to the bathroom while he was on the balcony fits.

During his cross examination, Roux told Botha, “It seems that an approach was adopted to discard anything that could have been consistent with a defence.”

Before a recess for lunch, the officer conceded that he could not find any inconsistencies in Pistorius’s version of events.

Earlier, however, the lead prosecutor asked, “Does his version of self-defence fit for you?” and Botha responded, “No. I believe that she was in the bathroom and he fired four shots and killed her.”

Front Pages: South Africa’s papers report Pistorius case

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