The Washington Post

Oscar Pistorius vomits as graphic testimony ends telecast

Oscar Pistorius reacts to testimony as the second week of his trial for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp begins. (Bongiwe Mchunu / AP Pool)

The judge presiding over the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius shut down live broadcasting and tweeting of the trial because of graphic testimony by the pathologist who conducted the autopsy on Reeva Steenkamp, who was shot by Pistorius in February 2013.

As the evidence was described in the Pretoria, South Africa, courtroom, Pistorius, who is accused of deliberately shooting his girlfriend, vomited, according to BBC and Sky News reports, and the trial was briefly halted. Gert Saayman, the head of the forensic medicine department at the University of Pretoria, said that “very personal” details of his testimony had “the potential to compromise the dignity of the deceased. I think that it goes against the good morals of society for us to make information of this nature available in a manner that vulnerable or unsuspecting people in society may be exposed,” he said (via the Associated Press).

The ban by Judge Thokozile Masipa was “not a question of press freedom,” prosecutor Gerrie Nel said.

The judge ordered before the trial began that proceedings could be partly televised, with audio broadcast in its entirety. However, witnesses can choose not to be shown on the broadcast. Last week, the judge extended her order, saying that still photos of witnesses who so requested cannot be published or disseminated for the duration of the trial, even if they were obtained from sources outside the courtroom. Her ruling came after photos of a witness were taken from a website and shown by media organizations.

Pistorius, the 27-year-old Olympic “blade runner” who is a national hero, contends he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder when he shot her in the middle of the night on Valentine’s Day. The prosecution contends the couple had quarreled earlier.

Related: Was Steenkamp’s death mistake or murder?

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.



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Cindy Boren · March 10, 2014