Oscar Pistorius Bail Hearing Coverage
I have been absolutely gripped by these proceedings via Twitter and the Guardian live feed, which has proved to be much quicker and informative than the BBC’s. Reading the testimony from the court really allows one to follow the legal arguments much better than reading the news reports afterwards which have unfortunately, but predictably, majored on hearsay.
Yesterday I wrote that fact is usually stranger than fiction and then things became simply surreal. It turned out that the investigating officer, Hilton Botha, was himself on a charge of attempted murder after allegedly shooting at seven people in a minibus whilst drunk. His evidence unravelled in court too. The ‘testosterone’ was not testosterone – the police had not read the label properly, the house Pistorius ‘owned’ in Italy was in fact on loan. The victim’s phone records had not been seen, despite their importance to the case and in rank incompetence policeman Botha had contaminated the scene with his shoes albeit without ‘meaning’ to. The ballistics evidence presented to the court was not from a specialist and they could not prove that Pistorius had not put on his prostheses before firing the gun. In fact, the more you read, the more you get an absolutely terrible view of the police.
As I wrote yesterday, the police were attached to the theory that there was a row prior to the shooting and that was the motive and the premeditation. Their ‘witnesses’ turned out to live either 300 or 600 metres away from Pistorius’ house – the police weren’t sure. If I were magistrate Desmond Nair, I would have some strong words for the police and I think I would be forced to grant Pistorius bail. Of course Nair has to base his decision on the evidence presented to him and whilst there may be some doubts about the defence, the police have really screwed theirs up completely. What is not admissible as evidence perhaps is human nature and I, who consider myself to be one of life’s more argumentative individuals, cannot imagine a scenario where I went to bed and then woke up and had a row at three in the morning.
Although there are some things in the defence that don’t make complete sense, I don’t think the prosecution case has made a whole lot of sense either. On balance Pistorius should probably get bail and the prosecution should drop the premeditation charge. On the other hand, the magistrate, Nair, knows the eyes of the world are on him, and under that kind of pressure who knows which way he will hop. Granting bail would cause uproar. If he wants to play it safe Pistorius will go to jail on remand. I’d go with uproar – at least it would send the message to the police to pull their collective fingers out.