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S.Africa court delays decision on televising trial

February 19, 2014

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa’s High Court on Wednesday delayed judgment on an application by local television stations to broadcast live the murder trial of double-amputee Oscar Pistorius who is charged with murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend in February last year.

Judge Dunstan Mlambo said he would deliver judgment on Tuesday next week for the application submitted by news channel eNCA, Eyewitness News and South African cable group MultiChoice.

The court heard that prosecutors have no problem with certain parts of the blockbuster court case being televised but Pistorius’ defense lawyers strongly opposed the applications.

Pistorius’ lawyer, Barry Roux, argued that permitting live broadcasts will lead to an unfair trial, with media activities in court affecting several aspects of the trial.

However, the lawyer for MultiChoice and Eyewitness News, Frank Snyckers, said that the court should make provisions to cater for the media as the Pistorius case had garnered “unprecedented interest.” He argued that interruptions during the trial would be eliminated if media were permitted to record proceedings.

“What we are proposing here would tame the circus. (If broadcast permission is granted), it won’t be necessary for everyone wanting a piece of the action to be in court,” the South African Press Association quoted Snyckers as saying.

The National Prosecuting Authority on Tuesday said it would not oppose the application, although its spokesman Nathi Mncube said it did have a number of conditions. He would not elaborate at the time.

Pistorius will go on trial from March 3 on a charge of premeditated murder for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home last Feb. 14, and also faces other firearm-related charges at the trial at a high court in the South African capital, Pretoria. He denies murder and claims he shot Steenkamp by mistake after believing she was a dangerous nighttime intruder in his bathroom.

Pistorius’ lawyers are also in negotiations with the family of Steenkamp over another out-of-court settlement ahead of his murder trial.

Update hourly