Oscar Pistorius murder trial extended to mid-May

  • 23 March 2014
  • From the section Africa
Oscar Pistorius (L) 19 March
Image caption Oscar Pistorius (L) is expected to give evidence soon

The murder trial of South African athlete Oscar Pistorius will now run until the middle of May after both sides agreed to an extension.

The trial has already overrun its initial timeframe with the prosecution not yet completing its case.

Mr Pistorius denies intentionally shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year, saying he mistook her for an intruder.

Last week he said he would sell his home to fund legal costs.

The court in Guateng province said that the trial would continue until 4 April, then adjourn for one week before resuming until 16 May.

"All parties involved" had agreed to the dates, the court said.

The trial will enter its fourth week on Monday, with five more witnesses expected to be called by the prosecution.

The court had been adjourned to allow the defence team to finish preparing its case.

The trial was initially estimated to have taken three weeks in total, but so far that deadline has passed with only 18 witnesses out of a possible 107 have been heard.

There has been intense media interest in the case in South Africa and beyond because of Mr Pistorius' status as a national sporting hero.

He is a double amputee who holds six Paralympic medals and also competed in the 2012 Olympic Games.

Image caption Oscar Pistorius says he shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp by mistake after mistaking her for an intruder

The defence team says Mr Pistorius himself will give evidence for the first time.

Almost the entire trial has been televised, though individual witnesses can choose not to be shown on television.

The prosecution says Mr Pistorius intentionally shot Ms Steenkamp - a model, reality TV celebrity and law graduate - after an argument.

But the athlete says he believed his girlfriend was in bed and that an intruder had entered the bathroom when he shot at the toilet door in the early hours of 14 February 2013.

There are no juries at trials in South Africa, and his fate will ultimately be decided by the judge, assisted by two assessors.

If found guilty, the 27-year-old - dubbed the "blade runner" because of the prosthetic limbs he wore to race - could face life imprisonment.

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