Oscar trial to be televised in part

PRETORIA - The High Court in Pretoria granted media houses permission on Tuesday to televise parts of the murder trial of paralympian Oscar Pistorius.

Judge Dunstan Mlambo said hi-tech broadcast equipment could be installed in the courtroom where Pistorius was set to go on trial next week for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

"The applicants' authorised representatives are permitted to set up equipment in accordance with the specifications that I mention [in the judgment] to obtain a video and audio recording and or transmission of the permitted portions as indicated in this order.

"The technical equipment shall comply with the following specifications: three cameras shall be installed in the courtroom at least 72 hours before the trial commences. The cameras shall be installed in locations which are unobtrusive," Mlambo read from his judgment.

No camera personnel would be allowed in the courtroom, controlling the equipment during the trial. This, he said, was to avoid disrupting court proceedings.

"The equipment is not permitted to record any confidential communication between legal representatives, between clients and their representatives, or any bench discussions between the judge and assessors that may be appointed.

"The presiding judge shall specifically direct when recording should start and when it should stop," said Mlambo.

He ordered that no "movie lights, flash attachments, or artificial lighting devices" were permitted in court.

The athlete's testimony could not be broadcast.

Mlambo said the media houses were allowed to broadcast audio-visual images of sections of the trial, including evidence of all State experts and the evidence of police and former police officers about the crime scene.

Closing arguments by the State and Pistorius's legal team, delivery of the judgment or sentence, if applicable, could also be broadcast.

Mlambo said: "It is... in the public interest that, within allowance limits, the goings on during the trial be covered... to ensure a greater number of people in the community who are unable to attend the proceedings are able to follow wherever they may be."
The application to film the proceedings was brought by news channel eNCA, joined by media houses MultiChoice and Eyewitness News.

Last week Frank Snyckers SC, for MultiChoice and Eyewitness News, told the court that media would use technologically advanced equipment that was unobtrusive and controlled remotely. Snyckers said media houses had secured the National Prosecuting Authority's support for doing so.

Pistorius's legal team opposed the application arguing that broadcasting the events would lead to an unfair trial. Barry Roux, SC, for Pistorius, asked why his client's trial was not being treated like any other.

Pistorius is accused of killing Steenkamp, his girlfriend, on February 14 last year. His trial is to be heard in the High Court in Pretoria from March 3 to 20.

A 24-hour TV channel dedicated to the trial will begin broadcasting on DSTV on March 2.

* This report has been updated with details of the ruling.
 

- Sapa

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