Pistorius trial more like a cinema than a courtroom at times

Pistorius pictured during the fourth day of his murder trial in Pretoria. Photo: Reuters

Reporters discuss their views on the credibility of the witnesses while trays of coffee are passed down the benches. At times, it feels more like a cinema than a courtroom.

Oscar Pistorius’ relatives take up half of the front bench, outnumbered six to one by the members of the media behind them - and occasionally wincing as some journalists loudly share their views on the evidence.

It’s a cramped, awkward set up which places the reporters and the reported next to each other – those for whom the trial is just work, and those with much more at stake.

At times, the families of defendant and victim were separated only by a wall of silence, though members of the Pistorius family reached out to some of Reeva Steenkamp’s relatives during the week, both in the courtroom and away from the cameras.

But the real drama is in the courtroom - captured by three remotely-operated cameras.

Although a single judge will decide Pistorius’ fate, this television trial has made armchair jurors of millions of viewers.

Video report from Tuesday 4th March

We, and they, have seen important themes emerge over five days of evidence.

The court has heard evidence from four of Pistorius’ neighbours – the ‘ear witnesses’.

His rottweiler-like lawyer, Barry Roux, has challenged them with a simple rebuttal: That they didn’t hear what they think they heard.

The “blood curdling” screams of a woman were actually the athlete’s, he has argued; and the “loud bangs” which followed were not gunshots, but the sound of Pistorius trying to smash down the door with a cricket bat.

Both defence and prosecution lawyers exuded absolute confidence as they shared words with reporters after one week of evidence.

But next week the trial enters a new phase, with forensic scientists and ballistics experts due to be called to the witness stand.

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