The double amputee sprinter, once revered across the world for his
triumph over physical adversity, faces life in prison if convicted
in the Pretoria High Court of the murder of Steenkamp, a 29-year-old
law graduate and model.
Pistorius says he shot Steenkamp in a tragic accident, firing at
what he thought was an intruder hiding behind a toilet door in his
luxury Pretoria home on February 14 last year.
With the trial now in its 19th day, prosecutor Gerrie Nel, whose
reputation as one of South Africa's toughest attorneys has earned
him the nickname 'The Pitbull', has sought to portray Pistorius as
an arrogant hot-head who is reckless with firearms.
"You will blame anybody but yourself," Nel said to the 27-year-old
track star, cross-examining him about a separate incident in which
Pistorius is accused of firing a pistol in a packed restaurant.
Pistorius said the gun was given to him by a friend under the
restaurant table and went off by itself. Police Captain Christian
Mangena gave evidence earlier in the trial, saying the weapon could
only fire if the trigger was pulled.
The athlete said he could not explain how the gun went off and
questioned his own defense advocate Barry Roux's decision not to
cross-examine Mangena on his evidence.
"Now you blame counsel Mr. Roux," Nel said, prompting Roux to shake
his head at a colleague.
[to top of second column]
"You are lying," Nel said, holding Pistorius in a stare. "You just
refuse to take responsibility for anything."
In a dramatic opening to his cross-examination on Wednesday, Nel
shocked the Pretoria court when he confronted Pistorius with a
graphic photograph of the dead Steenkamp showing the side and back
of her skull, her hair matted with blood and brains.
Pistorius broke down and sobbed as Nel pushed him repeatedly to take
responsibility for killing Steenkamp.
(Additional reporting by Nomatter Ndebele;
writing by Joe Brock; editing by Pascal Fletcher)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.