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Pistorius trial concludes, verdict set for September 11

Pretoria: A verdict in the high profile murder trial of sports star Oscar Pistorius has been set for September 11, after lawyers wrapped up five months of drama-filled proceedings today.


Oscar Pistorius

Eighteen months after Pistorius shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day 2013, the star's fate now lies in the hands of South African Judge Thokozile Masipa.

"We shall be back here on the 11th of September at 9:30 for the judgment," said Masipa, drawing proceedings to a close.

Pistorius stands accused of deliberately shooting dead his glamorous 29-year-old lover with hollow point "cop killer" bullets after an argument.

He faces 25 years in jail if convicted, but has pleaded not guilty, saying he mistook Steenkamp -- who was in a locked
toilet cubicle when she died -- for an intruder.

During a trial that has heard testimony from nearly 40 witnesses, the athlete -- celebrated for his courageous journey from disabled child to Olympic champion -- often cut a wretched figure.

Amid gruesome evidence about Steenkamp's gunshot wounds to the head, hip and hand Pistorius vomited in the dock and later frequently broke down in tears.

Proceedings concluded today with fiery defence lawyer Barry Roux insisting the "cold facts" did not prove his client's guilt and that the state's case was "circumstantial".

In a last-ditch plea to the court, Roux sought to show there was enough doubt about the prosecution to make a murder conviction impossible.

He said the evidence suggested the Paralympian should never have faced a murder trial, but rather the lesser charge of culpable homicide.

"The failure of the state to present that evidence leaves one big question mark," said Roux. "That's the failure of the state's case."

The defence has sought to explain Pistorius's actions as those of a "highly-vulnerable individual" obsessed with safety -- a result of a difficult childhood and his disability -- in a country with a sky-high crime rate.

The trial was even delayed for one month as Pistorius underwent psychiatric evaluation.

An ensuing report said he was suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, but was not suffering any mental illness that
could prevent him being held criminally responsible for his actions.

Roux admitted that Pistorius should be found guilty of discharging a firearm in a Johannesburg restaurant, one of three gun-related charges the athlete also faces.

Pistorius had pleaded not guilty to those charges. "He's guilty, my lady -- guilty on the first alternative, that he negligently used that firearm," said Roux.

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