Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 2nd 2014 Contents A43
March 2, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
JOHANNESBURG---With his past tri-
umphs now tarnished because he shot
to death his girlfriend, Oscar Pistorius
on Monday will enter court to be con-
fronted with the jarring possibility
that he will be sent to prison for at
least 25 years.
For the champion runner without
legs, who trained himself to overcome
all obstacles, nothing else matters now
but beating the murder charge against
him. Pistorius family said yesterday
that their focus is only on the trial. If
found guilty, Pistorius entire life story
will be recast.
When Pistorius walks on his pros-
thetics into North Gauteng High Court
for the start of his trial, seemingly little
remains of the Blade Runner, the double
amputee who ran alongside the world s
best and inspired many by overcoming
the loss of his legs before he was a year
Now, the 27-year-old Olympian must
fight allegations that, in a rage, he inten-
tionally shot at girlfriend Reeva
Steenkamp four times through a toilet
door, killing her. Prosecutors allege that
Pistorius then lied extensively about
the shooting, throwing doubt on every-
thing the world thought it knew about
Pistorius life is up for debate, not
just the events in the early hours of
Valentine s Day last year.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel called Pistorius
a man "willing and ready to fire and
kill" as the state charged him with pre-
meditated murder. Prosecutors say there
was "a measure of preparation" in the
way he killed Steenkamp after the cou-
ple argued loudly at his home.
Pistorius gives a totally different story,
saying he was terrified in the mistaken
belief that there was a dangerous
intruder in his home about to hurt him
and the woman he says he loved dearly.
"I knew I had to protect Reeva and
myself," Pistorius says in an 11-page
affidavit, his only testimony so far. She
died in his arms, he says.
The state s account makes Pistorius
out to be a cold and calculating killer;
his own description is of a disabled
man on his stumps and afraid who
made a terrible mistake. Which version
is true? It is the question that will
underline Pistorius entire trial.
It s a case where forensic and ballistic
experts and criminal psychologists will
feature, and where a toilet door, bullet
trajectory, blood spatter, cellphone
records and the debate over gun own-
ership and South Africa s violent crime
problem will play a part, all revolving
around a famous figure. Large parts of
the trial will be broadcast live from
Courtroom GD in Pretoria s high court
Pistorius mindset and intention in
the hours leading up to 3 am last Feb-
ruary 14 is what ultimately matters.
What clues do we have from him?
His life has been tumultuous and
touched by tragedy before. Pistorius
emerged from the hardship of his dis-
ability and the sudden death of his
mother, the biggest influence on him,
to become a role model for many. He
was banned from competing against
the able-bodied because of his carbon
fiber running blades but he got that
overturned. He was a boundary-break-
ing athlete who tested the world s pre-
conceptions of what disabled meant
and did it with apparent humility and
There were flashes of something else
though: A speedboat crash in early
2009 that left him in hospital with
serious facial injuries amid allegations
of drinking and reckless behavior. Later
that year, Pistorius was arrested after
a female guest at a party at his house
made a complaint of assault against
him. Charges weren t pursued.
Maybe most telling, two years ago
when he was reportedly with friends
in a car pulled over by traffic police
and, after an altercation, he allegedly
responded as they drove away by shoot-
ing his gun angrily out the sunroof.
Prosecutors will add two counts relating
to him firing a gun in public to his mur-
der and illegal possession of ammuni-
tion charges at trial. One of them is
believed to be that sunroof incident.
Did Pistorius reach for his 9mm pistol
again when angry on Valentine s Day,
prosecutors will ask.
Perhaps the Pistorius that walked to
the bathroom of his upscale home gun
FILE: in this Thursday, June 21, 2007 file photo South African amputee champion sprinter, Oscar Pistorius,
prior to a training session in Pretoria, South Africa. Born with a congenital condition, Pistorius had his lower
legs amputated before he was a year old yet grew up to be an unlikely track athlete, an Olympic finalist and
an international superstar who blurred the lines between able-bodied and disabled. Pistorius goes on trial
tomorrow for the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. AP PHOTO
His entire life
story on trial
in hand was someone between the
two extremes offered by the pros-
ecution and the defense.
Guns were one of Pistorius pas-
sions, but he also says they were
his protection. In South Africa, a
country with a high rate of violent
home invasions, Pistorius is not
alone in owning a gun for self-
defense. He previously spoke of
his fear of crime. But Pistorius
didn t obey gun-owners strict
guidelines when he fired bullets
through a door without seeing who
was on the other side. Maybe he
was fearful, but he was also pos-
"A reasonable man most prob-
ably would not have fired four
shots through the door," Marius
du Toit, a defense attorney and
former South Africa state prose-
cutor not involved in the case, told
AP. "His actions were definitely
not reasonable and I think that s
his biggest problem."
A murderer, a hero who made
a mistake or someone caught in
the middle, afraid but also too fast
to fire. They are options that must
be weighed by Judge Thokozile
Masipa when she decides whether
to convict on murder, acquit, or
find Pistorius guilty of a lesser
offense of negligent killing.
Pistorius ex-girlfriend Saman-
tha Taylor told a South African
newspaper a few months before
the shooting: "Oscar is certainly
not what people think he is."
Only the trial verdict will decide
what he is.
The state's account makes Pistorius out to be a cold and calculating killer; his own description is
of a disabled man on his stumps and afraid who made a terrible mistake. Which version is true?
It is the question that will underline Pistorius' entire trial.
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