SOUTH AFRICA
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Oscar Pistorius

Pistorius told ‘snowball of lies’, prosecutor claims in closing arguments

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 August, 2014, 10:07pm
UPDATED : Friday, 08 August, 2014, 4:13am

South African state prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked the judge in Oscar Pistorius' murder trial yesterday to reject the Olympic and Paralympic track star's defence as "devoid of any truth".

Double amputee Pistorius is accused of murdering his law graduate and model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his Pretoria home 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 after a heated argument.

The defence team says Pistorius was a vulnerable and caring boyfriend who killed Steenkamp 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 said the 27-year-old 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 today, 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 be able only to consider the state's case, circumstantial evidence and the balance of probabilities.

Nel spent the morning session trying to pick apart what he says is the contradictory evidence provided by Pistorius.

During his cross-examination, an emotional Pistorius said he had fired his gun accidentally without knowing what he was doing, straying from his original argument that he had shot knowingly because he thought his life was in danger.

Nel said Pistorius could not credibly assert he had shot both deliberately and accidentally.

"The accused never said to anyone that got to the scene: 'It was an accident. The shot just went off'. He never said 'I didn't want to shoot'," said Nel.

"He said: 'I thought it was a burglar and I shot her. Sorry, I shot Reeva. I thought she was an intruder'," Nel said, reading from testimony taken by police.

Roux's team has said that psychological evidence shows Pistorius has a 'heightened fight response' because of his disability.