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Pistorius lawyers opposed to trial on live TV

February 18, 2014

PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa (AP) — Oscar Pistorius’ defense lawyers are strongly opposing applications by South African television stations to broadcast live the double-amputee Olympian’s entire murder trial. Prosecutors say they have no problem with certain parts of the blockbuster court case being filmed.

At least two TV stations have applied for permission to show live coverage of Pistorius’ trial next month. Their applications are being considered by a judge, who will have the final say over whether one of the highest-profile legal battles in recent history is aired live on TV and watched minute-by-minute by millions across the world. If the judge grants permission for the trial, or parts of the trial, to be broadcast live, it would open the way for international TV stations to show the pictures being sent by the South African stations in a sharing agreement.

Pistorius attorney Kenneth Oldwadge told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the defense was arguing against the TV applications, which he said sought permission from the judge to broadcast the entire trial live.

“We are certainly opposing it,” Oldwadge said.

The prosecution did not object to live TV coverage of the opening arguments and rulings by the judge, National Prosecuting Authority senior spokesman Nathi Mncube told the AP. Mncube said that the NPA also had no objection to broadcasting the sentencing, should Pistorius be convicted.

However, Mncube said the NPA was opposed to any witness testimony being televised.

“We feel that would not serve any interest, especially the interest of justice,” Mncube said.

Prosecutors have listed 107 witnesses they can call on during the trial, including Pistorius’ sister and uncle. Pistorius himself may also testify in his own defense at trial, some legal experts say, to explain why he shot and killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp last February, which he has never denied.

Pistorius was charged with murder in Steenkamp’s Valentine’s Day shooting death a year ago last Friday. The world-famous athlete, nicknamed the Blade Runner because of his high-tech carbon fiber running blades, has already testified in an affidavit read out by a lawyer at his bail hearing that he shot Steenkamp through a toilet cubicle door in a tragic accident, saying he mistook the 29-year-old model and law graduate for a dangerous intruder in his bathroom.

Prosecutors maintain the world-famous athlete, once an inspiring role model for disabled sport, killed his girlfriend intentionally after a fight.

Nearly 100 reporters are expected to be allowed in the courtroom to see the trial and many more will watch on closed circuit television in a nearby room. No in-court television access has been allowed in any of Pistorius’ previous appearances over the last 12 months, with television cameras and photographers ordered to leave the court once it is in session. At Pistorius’ bail hearing last year, Magistrate Desmond Nair granted permission for an audio only feed of his ruling to be broadcast live. The intense international interest in the case made Nair an immediate trending topic on social media as he read his long and drawn out decision.

One of the television stations applying for live access has announced it would launch a 24-hour channel dedicated to the trial, the first time it’s done that for a news event.

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