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Oscar murder trial postponed

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Oscar Pistorius arrives at the High Court in Pretoria on Friday morning. Pistorius's murder trial has been postponed to April 7. Photo: @SapaNews

Pretoria - Oscar Pistorius's murder trial was postponed to April 7 because an assessor in his case in the High Court in Pretoria is ill, Judge Thokozile Masipa said on Friday.

It was an anti-climax of epic proportions. Weeks of State witness testimony had finally given way to what was meant to be the day Pistorius took the stand.

Since he was charged with the murder of his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, only Pistorius's bail application affidavit had given the world an insight into his version of events.

Dozens of local and foreign reporters, members of the ANC Women's League, as well as the Pistorius and Steenkamp family were shocked to hear that the case simply could not go ahead.

“One of the assessors is not well, this court is not properly constituted,” Masipa announced.

The prosecution said the necessary arrangements had been made to allow the court to continue in April, but when asked if there were any further applications that had to be made, defence advocate Barry Roux remained silent.

But even if the case had gone ahead on Friday, Pistorius may not have even made it to the stand.

While it is common practice for the accused to testify first for the defence's case, Pistorius's legal team could have filed an application to explain why other witnesses should precede him. Pistorius also has the option to decline the opportunity to take the stand.

Meanwhile, a formal application by lawyers representing various broadcasters and publications was also filed on Friday morning for the opportunity to film Pistorius during his testimony.

Non-expert witnesses have been given the right to ask their testimony not be broadcast live should they so choose.

In his bail affidavit, Pistorius claims that he believed an intruder had entered his premises on the night of the shooting. The athlete then chose to fire through the closed bathroom door, behind which he believed the intruder lay in wait. However, Steenkamp had been the one inside the toilet cubicle, was shot four times and died from her injuries.

But the prosecution has spent weeks poking holes in Pistorius's version of events, with neighbours telling the court they heard male and female screaming on the night of the killing.

Ballistics experts have also suggested that Steenkamp was standing in front of the cubicle door, which contradicts the defence's version she had gone to the toilet in the middle of the night.

Pistorius will also have to answer why he chose to fire on a closed bathroom door without being sure who was behind it, as well as why he didn't check on his girlfriend's location.

Meanwhile, a crime information officer has also disputed Pistorius's claims that he was deathly afraid of crimes in his area.

The expert told the court that only 11 crimes, two of which involved Pistorius, were reported at his Pretoria East complex between 2011 and 2013.

The Star and Sapa

Click here for IOL’s live blog about the Oscar trial.


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