The lead prosecutor called Oscar Pistorius a liar repeatedly at his murder trial Friday in a South African courtroom. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel accused the Olympic athlete of hiding the truth about the death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, whom he shot last year through a closed toilet door in his home in Pretoria. Oscar Pistorius, known as the Blade Runner, continually denied Nel’s assertions that he purposely shot Steenkamp.
The prosecutor’s questions showed his attempt to undermine Pistorius' reliability and credibility, and to portray the double amputee as someone who was inventing his version of events in order to suit his story. At one point Judge Thokozile Masipa reprimanded Nel for calling Pistorius a liar outright, and warned him to watch his language, according to CNN on April 11.
Nel hammered away at several details that Pistorius told police after the shooting in the early morning hours of Valentine’s Day 2013. Pistorius contends he didn’t know Steenkamp was behind the closed toilet door when he shot four times, alleging rather that he thought it was an intruder.
Friday, Nel’s focus was on Pistorius’ actions in the moments leading up to Steenkamp’s death. The two men battled first over whether the runner was ready to shoot, or whether he wanted to shoot. Pistorius claims he thought he heard an intruder enter his bathroom through a window, and that he took the safety off his gun in case he needed to fire.
Nel pelted the defendant with claims that he knew Steenkamp was behind the door, that they had just had a heated argument and that the truth was that he wanted to fire his gun. Pistorius emphatically denied his version of events.
Pistorius replied that there is a "massive difference" between being ready to shoot and wanting to do it. The prosecutor also questioned Pistorius scornfully over whether he heard a woman screaming as he fired the shots, as some witnesses told investigators they heard. Pistorius responded saying he did not.
At several points in his cross-examination, Nel alleged that Pistorius was struggling to remember certain details surrounding the shooting because he was making things up. Earlier Friday, Pistorius made mistakes in answering questions about neglecting to have a broken window in his home repaired immediately, as well as his alarm system.
Prosecutor Nel has a reputation for his aggressive nature, even having earned the nickname the Bull Terrier, according to ABC News. He scoffed at Pistorius’ claim that Reeva would have been too scared to respond to him when he got his gun, told her to get down and phone police, and then yelled for the intruder to get out of his house.
"She wasn't scared of anything except you," the prosecutor said. Pistorius, nicknamed Blade Runner for the blade-like prostheses he uses to run with, faces up to 25 years behind bars if convicted.