Pistorius trial to be partly televised

Oscar Pistorius

The trial opens on Monday, 3 March 2014, in the North Gauteng High Court
A South African Court on Tuesday authorised the partial live broadcasting of the trial of Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, which his defence had tried to prevent.

The trial of the 27-year-old Paralympic track star charged with killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp opens in Pretoria on Monday.

South African news channel eNCA and the media houses MultiChoice and Eyewitness News had applied for permission to broadcast live the country’s “trial of the century,’’ which would be followed around the world.

Judge Dunstan Mlambo said the entire audio of the trial could be broadcast, but television coverage would be limited.

Television coverage may include the opening and closing argument of the trial and evidence given by police and experts, but will exclude testimonies by witnesses and by Pistorius himself.

Pistorius’ lawyers opposed the broadcasting of the trial, arguing that it could influence witnesses and alter their testimonies.

Mlambo said that argument was partly valid, but that the freedom of the press also needed to be taken into account.

Live broadcasting will allow the public to see the trial without manipulation by editors, he said.

Mlambo also said live coverage would give the entire population access to the proceedings, instead of a small minority.
This will help to dispel the notion that the South African judiciary treats the rich and famous “with kid gloves’’, while disregarding the rights of the poor, the judge explained.

About 300 journalists around the world have applied for access to the court room, which can only accommodate 80 of them.

Pistorius, whose legs were amputated before his first birthday due to a congenital defect, became the first amputee to compete against able-bodied athletes in the London Olympics in 2012.

The icon fell from his pedestal on Feb.14, 2013, when he fired four shots at his girlfriend through the bathroom door in his Pretoria home.

Pistorius said he heard a noise from the bathroom and thought a burglar had entered there.
But prosecution will present witnesses who say they heard the couple arguing before the shots was fired.

(dpa/NAN)


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