Fri, Mar 07, 2014 - Page 6 News List

Pistorius’ lawyer accuses witness of doctoring testimony

AFP, PRETORIA

Oscar Pistorius’ defense lawyer yesterday accused a key witness of doctoring evidence with his wife to “incriminate” the athlete, as he tried to scupper the prosecution’s principal line of attack.

Barry Roux, continuing a tough cross-examination for a fourth day, sought to show that Charl Johnson’s first account of events the night Pistorius’ girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead differed from his sworn testimony.

“There is a design on your side to incriminate,” Roux said, claiming Johnson’s evidence was made in collusion with that of his wife and fellow key witness, Michelle Burger.

“You desperately want her version not to form part of this document,” Roux said, pointing at the witness. “You want to extricate any suggestion that this version was also your wife’s version.”

Johnson denied Roux’s accusation.

“My lady, I dispute that,” he said, addressing judge Thokozile Masipa.

Roux contends the married couple’s testimony has “striking similarities” and is therefore contaminated. The allegation could lessen the impact of the pair’s statements.

In vivid testimony that cast doubt on the Olympic runner’s claims of a “tragic accident,” the pair have told the court they heard a screams then gunshots on Valentine’s Day 2013 at Pistorius’ home.

The couple’s account would undermine Pistorius’ claim that he shot his girlfriend, a 29-year-old model and law graduate, through a locked toilet door after mistaking her for an intruder.

Roux struggled to get Johnson to admit that what he heard that night may have been Pistorius’ screams, not those of a woman.

Johnson said he was sure of what he heard.

“I’m convinced that I heard a lady scream and it’s easy to distinguish a lady voice from the male voice,” he said.

Earlier Roux apologized to Johnson for reading out loud his telephone number in court.

Johnson told the court on Wednesday that his “privacy has been compromised severely” and he had received threatening phone calls and messages on his phone.

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