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Oscar’s lawyer: Witness, hubby, cop colluded

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REUTERS

Defence lawyer Barry Roux, who represents Oscar Pistorius, attends the second day of trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. Photo: Kim Ludbrook/Reuters

Pretoria - The defence in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial has suggested that the first witness, her husband and the investigating officer could have colluded to make sure their statements corroborated.

This was part of the stringent cross examination of first witness, Michelle Burger, with advocate Barry Roux continuing his full assault on Tuesday morning.

The University of Pretoria lecturer lived about 170 metres from Pistorius's home and told the court of what she heard the night of the shooting of Reeva Steenkamp.

According to Burger, there was a series of screams and shouts from both a man and a woman coming from Pistorius's home before she heard gunshots fired in the distance - as well as more female screams during the gunshots and just after.

Roux argued that Burger had been influenced by media coverage - both positive and negative - in her recounting of the night of the incident.

He then provided the court with a second statement, from her husband - another State witness - which he said was too similar to her own.

He was able to point out that both her and her husband's phone number appeared on her statement - her husband's crossed out - and that the two statements appeared to be using the same template, only altered slightly.

He mentioned that the opening sentences were almost exactly the same, but Burger said that the pair must have been asked the same questions by the police’s investigating officer, Michael van Aardt.

Roux then heavily implied that van Aardt had allowed the husband and wife to collude to create such similar statements. He said that it could be possible that the first statement could have been modelled after the second.

Earlier during Burger's testimony, she said that when she heard the shots, she claimed to have still heard the woman screaming. But Roux said this differed from Burger's original statement to the investigator, and that she should have also told him that she heard screams during and shortly after the shooting.

Burger argued that it was implied.

But prosecutor Gerrie Nel objected, saying it was a semantic argument, as the original statement was in Afrikaans.

Roux continued to argue it would have been impossible for Burger to hear the screams during the loud gunshot noises.

He then questioned how she could tell the intensity of the panic and emotion of the screams from more than 170m away, and through a closed bathroom door.

She said she could, and that she could also tell it was the same voice before and after the gunshots.

Roux proposed a test - though not today to avoid wasting time - to determine if she was telling the truth.

But Burger said that houses had been constructed between the two homes since last year, to which Roux said that she could stand even closer.

Burger said the only time she couldn't clearly hear the screaming was when she was on the telephone to security.

shain,germaner@inl.co.za

The Star

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