Pistorius lawyers slam leaked footage

Last updated 08:29 07/07/2014
Oscar Pistorius
ON TRIAL: Oscar Pistorius arrives at the courtroom at North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria during the murder trial for the killing of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

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Footage aired of Oscar Pistorius re-enacting the night he killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was "obtained illegally", say lawyers for the athlete.

The video aired on Channel Seven's Sunday Night programme and showed the South African Olympian walking without his prosthetic legs and his arm held out before him with his fist clenched as if holding a gun.

He also demonstrated how he dragged the body of Reeva Steenkamp, played by his sister Aimee, from the bathroom and carried her downstairs.

With Pistorius' murder trial still under way in South Africa, the family lawyers of the accused athlete said the "visual mapping" re-enactment was for trial preparation only and they alleged it had been "obtained illegally".

"For the family, the airing of this footage constitutes a staggering breach of trust and an invasion of the family's privacy," lawyer Brian Webber said in a statement. No permission for the disclosure of the material had been given, he said.

Webber said they had not yet seen the footage and could not comment on whether it was a true reflection of the athlete's account, London's Telegraph reported.

The lawyer claimed that Channel Seven, which aired the video in Australia only, had paid for the footage "unlawfully" but had given "an undertaking" that they would not air any of the material before the end of the trial, the newspaper reported.

Channel 7 did not answer requests for a response.

Pistorius' lawyers alleged the usage of the video filmed by a US company specialising in forensic animation, The Evidence Room, which had been engaged by Pistorius' defence team, also breached a non-disclosure agreement made with the company. The Evidence Room did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

One legal expert in Johannesburg, Professor Stephen Tuson of the Wits School of Law, said the screening of the footage could be a breach of sub-judice laws that prohibit the publication outside the courtroom of evidence or material that could influence the outcome of the trial.

"If this was done in preparation for the trial in the context of attorney-client confidentiality, it would be privileged and its publication would be a breach of the sub-judice rule," he said. "Its consequences could be a reviewable irregularity."

At his murder trial, which opened in early March, Pistorius has said in his defence that he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder in the toilet of his Pretoria home and killed her accidentally.

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In the video, Pistorius also re-enacted how he screamed in distress that night.

"Reeva, call the police," he yelled. "Get out of my f***ing house."

At another point he was recorded shrieking "please help, please help me".

Channel 7 said the re-enactment footage was shot at Pistorius' uncle's house, "some months" after the shooting.

The court heard last week that the athlete was not suffering from a mental condition when he shot Steenkamp, meaning he was able to distinguish the wrongfulness of his actions. The court also hear that Pistorius was suffering from post-traumatic stress and was a 'suicide risk'.

Pistorius' trial is due to resume on Monday. 

- Reuters, Sydney Morning Herald

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