Australian channel defends broadcasting re-enactment by Pistorius

Tuesday 08 July 2014 00.03
Oscar Pistorius claims he mistakenly shot Reeva Steenkamp
Oscar Pistorius claims he mistakenly shot Reeva Steenkamp

An Australian television network has defended its decision to broadcast footage showing Oscar Pistorius in a re-enactment of the night he shot his girlfriend.

The Seven Network broadcast the video yesterday, on the eve of the resumption of the Paralympic athlete's trial in South Africa for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp.

The video was made by the Evidence Room, a US company that specialises in forensic animation.

Lawyers for the athlete said it was commissioned by his defence team and obtained illegally by the TV station.

The broadcaster disputed this in a statement, insisting the video was not obtained illegally.

"This was a significant investigation ... examining the critical 85 minutes on Valentine's Night 2013 when Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead by Oscar Pistorius," said Mark Llewellyn, executive producer of the Sunday Night programme.

"The material shown on Sunday night goes to the heart of both the prosecution and defence cases, including the account provided by Oscar Pistorius.

"We would not have run the footage if we thought we had obtained it illegally.

"The story was run in Australia only and not made available to any other territory."

It did not say how it obtained the footage, in which the double-amputee is seen crossing a room on his bare stumps, wearing a tank top and tight black shorts, his hand clenched in the air as if ready to fire a gun.

The 27-year-old is also seen screaming and crying for help, and carrying his younger sister Aimee down a flight of stairs, as he acts out his account of the minutes after he shot Ms Steenkamp.

Legal observers have said it is now unlikely that the prosecution will be able to introduce the video as evidence when the trial resumes today.

Stephen Tuson, an associate law professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, said the origin of the footage was important.

"If it was produced by the defence as part of their investigation and preparation for the trial, it's strictly privileged, it's confidential and it cannot be used," said Mr Tuson.

"Whatever you tell your attorney is strictly confidential and privileged, if there's a breach of that, there can be a mistrial," said Mr Tuson.

"If there is a failure of justice, that's the end of the trial."

Mr Pistorius has been charged with murdering Ms Steenkamp after a row early on the morning of 14 February, 2013.

The sprinter claims he mistakenly shot the 29-year-old model and law graduate through a locked door, believing she was an intruder in his upmarket Pretoria home.

If found guilty of premeditated murder, he faces up to 25 years in jail and an abrupt end to his glittering sports career.