S.Africa court delays decision on televising trial

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File – In this file photo taken on Monday, Aug, 19, 2013, Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius appears at the magistrates court in Pretoria, South Africa. Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial will have a dedicated 24-hour television channel in South Africa, the country’s top cable provider said, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, promising “round-the-clock” coverage of one of the blockbuster stories of the year. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, File)

File – In this file photo taken on Monday, Aug, 19, 2013, Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius appears at the magistrates court in Pretoria, South Africa. Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial will have a dedicated 24-hour television channel in South Africa, the country’s top cable provider said, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, promising “round-the-clock” coverage of one of the blockbuster stories of the year. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, File)

This photo taken from the Oscar Pistorius official website, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, shows a message by the Olympian athlete Pistorius on the anniversary of the Valentines Day shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. “No words can adequately capture my feelings about the devastating accident that has caused such heartache for everyone who truly loved – and continues to love Reeva,” said Pistorius, who told a court last year that he mistook Steenkamp for a dangerous nighttime intruder. The double-amputee runner, faces a murder trial next month for the fatal shooting in his home in Pretoria, South Africa. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa’s High Court on Wednesday delayed judgment on an application by local television stations to broadcast live the murder trial of double-amputee Oscar Pistorius who is charged with murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend in February last year.

Judge Dunstan Mlambo said he would deliver judgment on Tuesday next week for the application submitted by news channel eNCA, Eyewitness News and South African cable group MultiChoice.

The court heard that prosecutors have no problem with certain parts of the blockbuster court case being televised but Pistorius’ defense lawyers strongly opposed the applications.

Pistorius’ lawyer, Barry Roux, argued that permitting live broadcasts will lead to an unfair trial, with media activities in court affecting several aspects of the trial.

However, the lawyer for MultiChoice and Eyewitness News, Frank Snyckers, said that the court should make provisions to cater for the media as the Pistorius case had garnered “unprecedented interest.” He argued that interruptions during the trial would be eliminated if media were permitted to record proceedings.

“What we are proposing here would tame the circus. (If broadcast permission is granted), it won’t be necessary for everyone wanting a piece of the action to be in court,” the South African Press Association quoted Snyckers as saying.

The National Prosecuting Authority on Tuesday said it would not oppose the application, although its spokesman Nathi Mncube said it did have a number of conditions. He would not elaborate at the time.

Pistorius will go on trial from March 3 on a charge of premeditated murder for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home last Feb. 14, and also faces other firearm-related charges at the trial at a high court in the South African capital, Pretoria. He denies murder and claims he shot Steenkamp by mistake after believing she was a dangerous nighttime intruder in his bathroom.

Pistorius’ lawyers are also in negotiations with the family of Steenkamp over another out-of-court settlement ahead of his murder trial.

Associated Press

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