1. The trial of Oscar Pistorius over the death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steemkamp, began today at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa.
2. Pistorius has been charged with murdering Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013, at his home in Pretoria.
He is facing charges of murder and illegal possession of ammunition, as well as two other counts in relation to shooting a gun in public in two separate incidents unrelated to Steenkamp’s death.
3. Defense lawyer Kenny Oldwadge read out Pistorius’ “legal strategy” and statement at the beginning of the trial.
Pistorius says in the early hours of Feb. 14 2013, he brought in two fans off the balcony after speaking with Steenkamp, who was in bed next to him. He said that was when Steenkamp must have gone to the toilet, but he hadn’t noticed she left.
He said he then heard the bathroom window open and was in a “fearful state” because he was unable to run away or defend himself as he wasn’t wearing his prostheses.
“I approached the bathroom, armed with my firearm, so as to defend Reeva and I,” he said.
The statement added that, “The state has embarked on a strategy to rely on unsubstantiated allegations.”
4. Pistorius pleaded not guilty to Steenkamp’s murder and all other charges.
He acknowledges he shot Steenkamp, but maintains it was an accident.
5. June Steeenkamp, Reeva Steenkamp’s mother, appeared in court today for the first time. She said she wanted Pistorius to have to look her in the eyes.
6. She told the Mail on Sunday: “I want to look at Oscar, really look him in the eyes, and see for myself the truth about what he did to Reeva, and whatever the court decides at the end of his trial, I will be ready to forgive him.”
She continued by saying, “But first I want to force him to look at me, Reeva’s mother, and see the pain and anguish he has inflicted on me. I feel I need that.”
7. Pistorius’ brother, Carl Pistorius, was present at the trial, as were a number of their relatives.
8. The first witness of the trial was Michell Burger, Pistorius’ neighbor, who gave her account of hearing “terrible screams.”
“She screamed terribly and she yelled for help. Then I also heard a man screaming for help. Three times he yelled for help. Just after her screams, I heard four shots. It was very traumatic for me. You could hear that it was bloodcurdling screams.”
9. Parts of the trial will be broadcast live on TV in South Africa and all over the world. A South African cable channel has been launched and will provide 24-hour coverage of the trail.
Testimony given by Pistorius will not be shown.
The South African legal system does not have trials by a jury, therefore Judge Thokozile Masipa ultimately decide if Pistorius is innocent or guilty.
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