Pistorius told 'snowball of lies,' says prosecution

PRETORIA - The main prosecutor in the trial of Oscar Pistorius has argued that the South African athlete cannot avoid a conviction for murdering his girlfriend.

Gerrie Nel accused the athlete of being a "deceitful witness" who told the court a "snowball of lies".

Mr Pistorius denies murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

He says he mistook her for an intruder but the prosecution says he deliberately shot her after a row.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel began his concluding remarks on Thursday, with the defence due to follow on Friday.

Known as the "Pitbull" prosecutor, Mr Nel said that even if Pistorius's account of events were true, "he cannot escape" a conviction for murdering with intent.

Ms Steenkamp was killed at Mr Pistorius's home in South Africa's capital, Pretoria, on 14 February last year.

At the court in Pretoria, Mr Nel began his closing argument by accusing the athlete's lawyers of presenting two lines of defence that "can never be reconciled".

Mr Pistorius said he had fired both involuntarily and also out of fear, Mr Nel argued, insisting the court had to choose only one of his defences.

He said the court "should have no difficulty in rejecting" the athlete's version of events because it was "devoid of any truth".

Analysis: Pumza Fihlani, BBC News, Pretoria

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel, known in court circles as the "bull terrier", has spent the day giving a detailed summary of the instances Oscar Pistorius has altered his statements during the trial. He pointed to the athlete's defences as a clear indication that he was covering up for shooting his girlfriend after an argument on Valentine's Day last year.

In his bail statement, Mr Pistorius said he had pulled the trigger to protect the couple from a perceived intruder. Mr Nel, who referred to the athlete's evidence as a "snowball of lies", used this to argue that even by this version he should be found guilty of murder with intent as he was aware of the likely outcome of his actions having armed himself with the sole purpose of shooting whoever was behind the toilet door.

The Paralympian, dressed in a dark suit, sat listening to Mr Nel intently.

Mr Pistorius told so many lies in such a short space of time, Mr Nel said, that they had a "snowball effect" and forced him to tell more.

He also attacked Mr Pistorius for presenting himself as "a victim of circumstance".

Mr Pistorius's estranged father, Henke, was in the packed courtroom for the first time during the trial. It was also the first time that Barry Steenkamp, Reeva's father, had attended.

Showdown

The BBC's Karen Allen in Pretoria says Mr Nel is seeking to build a picture of a man who knew the consequences of his actions.

The defence team has sought to portray Mr Pistorius as vulnerable due to his disability and anxious because of his difficult childhood in a country with a high crime rate.

But Mr Nel said the athlete had anxiety "on call", suggesting that he had manufactured a fear of crime to help his defence.

Last month, a psychiatric report said Mr Pistorius had post-traumatic stress disorder but no mental illness that could prevent him being held criminally responsible for his actions.

Judge Thokozile Masipa, a subdued presence in the trial so far, had been expected to intervene more in the closing statements and perhaps provide hints about a future verdict

But the BBC's Africa correspondent, Andrew Harding, says she rarely interjected in Thursday morning's proceedings.

Oscar Pistorius's lawyer, Barry Roux, will give his closing remarks after Mr Nel, in what correspondents say is the final showdown between two of South Africa's top legal minds.

Judge Masipa is expected to adjourn the trial after hearing the arguments to consider her ruling, a process that analysts say will take in between a week to a month.

There is no jury.

If found guilty of murder, the 27-year-old, who went on trial on 3 March, could face life imprisonment.

If he is acquitted of that charge, the court will consider an alternative charge of culpable homicide, for which he could - if convicted - receive about 15 years in prison.

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