Thursday, 11 September 2014

Full Details: Friday Is Ides Of March For Oscar Pistorius!

The judge in the Oscar Pistorius trial has ruled out murder charges, but has left it to Friday to announce whether he is guilty of culpable homicide.

Judge Thokozile Masipa said prosecutors had failed to prove the Olympic athlete killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp deliberately in the toilet after a row, prompting tears from Mr Pistorius.

But she said he acted too hastily and his conduct had clearly been negligent.

Adjourning the trial, she said a reasonable person would not have fired.

Judge Masipa had earlier described Mr Pistorius as an evasive witness but said this did not mean he was guilty.

Clearing him of murder charges, she said he could not have foreseen killing whoever was behind the toilet door.

The South African Olympic sprinter had denied murdering Ms Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year, saying he thought there was an intruder.

Mr Pistorius, 27, has pleaded not guilty to all the charges he faces, including two counts of shooting a firearm in public and the illegal possession of ammunition.

'Facts wrong'

Judge Masipa began by detailing the charges against the athlete and repeating extracts of his testimony, reading in a slow, measured way.

She then moved on to a summary of the trial.

A tense-looking Mr Pistorius looked on from the dock, and wept several times during the proceedings.

The judge questioned the reliability of several witnesses who apparently heard screams and gunshots at the time of the incident, saying most of those who said they had heard the incident had "got facts wrong".

The prosecution had used these witnesses to try to prove that Mr Pistorius had killed Ms Steenkamp with premeditation after an argument.

Later in her judgement, Judge Masipa concluded that the prosecution had failed in this.

"The state has not proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of premeditated murder," she said. "There are just not enough facts to support such a finding."

The judge added that the accused believed his life was in danger and therefore could not be found guilty of a lesser charge of murder.

Judge: Killing not premeditated murder

"How could the accused reasonably have foreseen that the shot he fired would kill the deceased?" she said.

"Clearly he did not subjectively foresee this as a possibility, that he would kill the person behind the door, let alone the deceased as he thought she was in the bedroom at the time."

But Judge Masipa then adjourned for lunch before moving on to the charge of culpable homicide, or manslaughter, which suggests negligence without intention to kill and which could still mean a jail sentence.

Her decision to adjourn for the day took many by surprise.

The BBC's Andrew Harding says the court witnessed Judge Masipa's logic and style - gentle, tolerant of error from witnesses, but razor sharp.

Correspondents say the judge appeared to be moving much more quickly than expected through the evidence, in a process which had been expected take more than a few hours or even days.

Culled from BBC

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