Oscar Pistorius’ Family Denies Hiring Acting Coach For Trial
Oscar Pistorius’ family has denied he took acting lessons ahead of his testimony in the trial of the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
In a statement, they say claims he had received coaching for his emotional performance were “devoid of the truth”.
The South African athlete has broken down on several occasions during the trial, often disrupting proceedings.
The Paralympian denies intentionally killing Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine’s Day last year.
He says he fired four shots through a locked toilet door out of fear, believing there was a burglar inside.
But the prosecution says the 29-year-old model and law graduate was deliberately killed after the couple had an argument.
South African columnist Jani Allan claimed Oscar Pistorius took acting lessons ahead of his trial in an open letter to the athlete last week, saying she had heard it “from a reliable source”.
“Oscar, you are the latest in a long line of faux heroes. Like so many who preceded you, you have betrayed your people and disappointed your fans,” she wrote.
The Pistorius family said they felt compelled to deny the claims after they were widely circulated in the media.
In a statement on Oscar Pistorius’ website, spokeswoman Anneliese Burgess said Ms Allan had never met Mr Pistorius and that any knowledge she had of him was “fictitious”.
“This type of comment makes a mockery of the enormous human tragedy involving the Steenkamp family and our client and his family,” it adds.
The allegations followed seven days of emotional testimony from Mr Pistorius, who at times broke down in court and vomited when evidence from the post-mortem examination was presented to court.
If found guilty, the 27-year-old – a national sporting hero and double amputee dubbed the “blade runner” because of the prosthetic limbs he wears to race – could face life imprisonment.
If Mr Pistorius is acquitted of murder, the court must consider an alternative charge of culpable homicide, for which he could receive about 15 years in prison.
He also faces charges of illegally firing a gun in public and of illegally possessing ammunition, both of which he denies.
There are no juries at trials in South Africa, and his fate will ultimately be decided by the judge, assisted by two assessors.
The trial has been adjourned over the Easter period and will resume on 5 May.