Steenkamp's encrypted iPhone may prove crucial in Pistorius trial

Jun 05, 2013, 17:22 IST | Agencies

An encrypted iPhone discovered in sprinter Oscar Pistorius' blood-spattered bathroom could turn out to be crucial to a police investigation in the Reeva Steenkamp murder trial.

Pistorius' court hearing held yesterday has been postponed to August 19, pending further investigations, Times Live reports.

The encrypted iPhone was found among four phones seized from Pistorius'' Silver Lakes home hours after he fired through the bathroom door and hit Steenkamp.

Sprinter Oscar Pistorius. File pic/AFP

While Pistorius insisted that he shot Steenkamp under the illusion that it was an intruder inside the bathroom, the police and the National Prosecuting Authority maintain that the cellphones are significant for the probe as the data downloaded from the phones is either completely or at least partially encrypted, according to a source.

The encrypted iPhone is believed to have belonged to Steenkamp, who is thought to have taken it with her to the bathroom at 3 a.m., thereby raising several questions in the police department.

The police has said that data on the phone might reveal Steenkamp’s last calls or messages, adding that the information on the phone, the bathroom door and the ballistics reports are the keys to the case, but have refused to name the cellphone's owner for fear that the information will be leaked that might allow the defence to make attempts at destroying the state's case.

Information security specialist Haroon Meer said that the police might ask for phone manufacturer Apple's assistance in decrypting the data who could help them avail data on messages, calls and phonebook contacts, but raised concerns that modern iPhones are password-encrypted and access would depend on the strength of the password.

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