December 18, 2014
Prosecutor calls Pistorius' defence 'devoid of any truth' in final stage of trial
South African state prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked the judge in Oscar Pistorius' murder trial today to reject the Olympic and Paralympic track star's defence as "devoid of any truth".
Double amputee Pistorius, once a national icon for reaching the pinnacle of sport, is accused of murdering his law graduate and model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home in Pretoria on Valentine's Day last year.
If found guilty of premeditated murder, he could face life in prison. A potential lesser charge of culpable homicide could carry a sentence of 15 years.
Since the trial opened in early March, Nel has portrayed Pistorius as a gun-obsessed hothead who shot 29-year-old Steenkamp four times through a locked toilet door where she was taking refuge after a heated argument.
The defence team says Pistorius, nicknamed the 'blade runner' after his hi-tech prosthetics, was a vulnerable and caring boyfriend who killed Steenkamp by accident after mistaking her for an intruder hiding behind the door.
"The court should have no difficulty in rejecting his full version of events, not only as not reasonably possibly true, but in essence as being absolutely devoid of any truth," Nel told the Pretoria court during his closing arguments.
Nel, known as 'The Pitbull' because of his fierce cross-examination style and penchant for the dramatic, said Pistorius was caught up in a "snowball of lies".
Lead defence attorney Barry Roux began his closing response by accusing the state of deliberately avoiding calling witnesses whose evidence would have damaged their case.
Roux will give the bulk of his wrap-up on Friday, which is expected to be the final day of a long-overrun trial.
There is no jury, and so the verdict hinges on whether judge Thokozile Masipa believes Pistorius' version of events. If she rejects his defence, she would only be able to consider the state's case, circumstantial evidence and the balance of probabilities.