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Reeva Steenkamp Murder Trial Day 3:The Court is not going well for Pistorius / Breaking News

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Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius injured a professional boxer by firing a gun in a restaurant then asked his friend to take the blame, a court has heard.

Cruiserweight fighter Kevin Lerena, giving evidence at his friend’s murder trial, said he and several others were dining with the Paralympic star in Johannesburg on January 13 last year.

Mr Lerena said he saw Pistorius’ friend Darren Fresco pass a gun to him under the table, shortly before a shot went off.

He said: “There was blood on my toe. I went to the bathroom. I was shocked.

“Oscar apologised. I remember that I was in shock. I’ve never been in a confined area where a gunshot has gone off by accident.

“(Pistorius) told Fresco: ‘Tell them it was you, I don’t want any more media hype around me.'”

Mr Lerena is the first witness to agree to appearing on camera while giving his evidence.

He told prosecutor Gerrie Nel that when Mr Fresco handed the gun to Pistorius he said it was “one up”, a term meaning there is one bullet in the chamber.

He said Pistorius removed a bullet from the chamber, then the “next moment” there was a shot.

Earlier, evidence given by one of the prosecution’s key witnesses was repeatedly challenged by Pistorius’ defence team during a tense cross-examination.

Charl Peter Johnson’s claim that he heard a woman screaming after the final gunshot on the night Reeva Steenkamp was killed was criticised by Barry Roux, because it did not appear in his initial witness statement.

Mr Roux said: “In your evidence you described the woman screaming. You said you could hear the fear. What is significant is that in your wife’s (Michelle Burger) testimony, she said she could hear the woman’s intense fear in her screams. Yet this is not in your statement.

“When you gave evidence yesterday, it was not stated in your statement but you now speak about the scream after the last shot.

“I think you don’t know what you are saying. You are saying all the evidence that your wife gave us yesterday.”

But Mr Johnson said: “I don’t think it is strange that we used the same words.”

The issue of the sound of a woman screaming is a key point for the prosecution. The claims by neighbours that they heard the screams suggest Pistorius would have known it was Ms Steenkamp, rather than an intruder, as he fired.

Gerrie Nel is leading the case against the Paralympian. Considered a master prosecutor by analysts, he secured a corruption conviction against ex-South African police chief Jackie Selebi before taking on the Pistorius case.
Gerrie Nel is leading the case against the Paralympian. Considered a master prosecutor by analysts, he secured a corruption conviction against ex-South African police chief Jackie Selebi before taking on the Pistorius case.

At one point, as Mr Roux became increasingly exasperated during his questioning, he turned around and glanced at Pistorius and told Mr Johnson: “A man’s life is at stake here.”

Oscar Pistorius showed no emotion as he – surrounded by his cousins – entered the court in South Africa’s administrative capital earlier.

There were shouts and whistles as he made his way through the crowd towards the court’s entrance.

Mr Johnson started his evidence by saying his phone number was read out in court on Tuesday, and he had received phone calls from a member of the public as a result.

He said: “The message was intimidating. I feel that my privacy has been compromised.”

He will return to court on Thursday to continue giving evidence. In the meantime the defence will pore over notes he made about the night of the killing.

Pistorius faces four charges: premeditated murder, the illegal possession of ammunition and two further counts related to shooting a gun in public in two separate incidents before the killing.

Pistorius, known as Blade Runner, denies all of the charges, including the allegation he deliberately killed his girlfriend after a jealous row.

He maintains he shot Ms Steenkamp after mistaking her for an intruder.

The trial is scheduled to last for three weeks and will hear from more than 100 witnesses.

If he is found guilty Pistorius could be jailed for at least 25 years. His fate will be decided by Judge Thokozile Masipa because South Africa does not have a jury system.

 

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