The defence team for Oscar Pistorius has closed its case in the athlete’s murder trial, bringing a legal case that has transfixed South Africans and others around the world closer to a verdict. Final arguments are scheduled for 7-8 August.
The defence lawyer Barry Roux said he had finished calling witnesses to testify in the trial of Pistorius, who killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp by firing through a closed toilet door in his home.
“We close the case for the defence,” said Roux. Some witnesses did not want to testify for the defence because of publicity surrounding the case, he said, adding that he chose not to ask the judge, Thokozile Masipa, to compel them to appear.
“There’s nothing that we can do about it,” he said in the Pretoria courtroom where the trial of the double-amputee runner has been held since March.
The chief prosecutor, Gerrie Nel, said the prosecution would file closing arguments on 30 July and the defence would do so on 4 August. He and Roux agreed to return to court on 7 August to give final arguments before Masipa.
Pistorius says he killed Steenkamp by mistake, believing that an intruder was in the toilet and about to attack him. The prosecution claims he shot her after a Valentine’s Day argument last year.
Pistorius, who is free on bail, faces 25 years to life in prison if found guilty of premeditated murder. He could also be sentenced to a shorter prison term if convicted of murder without premeditation or negligent killing. Additionally, he faces separate gun-related charges.