Prosecutor: Pistorius 'can't escape' conviction

Oscar Pistorius arrives at court in Pretoria. Photo / AP
Oscar Pistorius arrives at court in Pretoria. Photo / AP

A South African prosecutor has branded Oscar Pistorius "deceitful" and insisted the Paralympian can't avoid a conviction for murdering his girlfriend, as the state closed its case against him.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said that even if the court accepts Pistorius's claim he killed Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year believing she was an intruder, "he cannot escape" a conviction for murdering with intent.

Ending the first of two days of concluding arguments in the gripping five-month murder trial, Nel said Pistorius's efforts to concoct an alibi had led to a "snowball effect" of lies requiring more lies to back them up.

"In an attempt to tailor his version to support his plea explanation, he tangled himself in a web," said Nel.

In a meticulous review of evidence presented by almost 40 witnesses, Nel said Pistorius, 27, was guilty of "a baker's dozen" of misleading statements.

He also pointed to state experts' testimony that Steenkamp had food in her stomach when she died and that neighbours heard a woman screaming to show the star sprinter was lying.

But, he said, even if Judge Thokozile Masipa believes Pistorius's claim the accidentally shot at an intruder, he must be found guilty.

"We argue that even in the event of the court accepting the accused's evidence that he thought there was an intruder in the toilet, he cannot escape a conviction on murder with dolus directus (direct intent)."

Pistorius, a double-amputee star sprinter, has denied the charge during the trial in which he has at times sat weeping and vomiting in the dock as grisly details of Steenkamp's death were presented.

His legal team - led by top defence lawyer Barry Roux - has sought to convince Masipa that Pistorius shot his girlfriend by accident, and portray him as a "highly-vulnerable individual" obsessed with safety.

During the trial Pistorius underwent psychiatric evaluation and an ensuing report said he was suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, but was not suffering any mental illness that could prevent him being held criminally responsible for his actions.

- AFP

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