Dramatic demonstration: Pistorius walks on stumps ahead of murder sentencing

DISABILITY: Oscar Pistorius walks on his stumps during argument in mitigation of sentence by his defense attorney in the High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday. (AP)
Updated 15 June 2016
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Dramatic demonstration: Pistorius walks on stumps ahead of murder sentencing

PRETORIA: A sobbing Oscar Pistorius walked hesitantly on his stumps around court Wednesday in a dramatic demonstration of his disability ahead of his sentencing for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Wearing shorts, the double-amputee removed his prosthetic limbs at the request of his lawyer Barry Roux as he made a final plea for Pistorius, who faces 15 years in jail.
The Paralympic athlete held onto wooden benches for support as he hobbled in front of the judge, and appeared in distress as a cushion was provided for him to rest on.
Roux and state lawyer Gerrie Nel set out their concluding arguments at the High Court in Pretoria, three years after Steenkamp’s death.
Pistorius, 29, shot his girlfriend in the early hours of Valentine’s Day in 2013, claiming he mistook her for a burglar when he fired four times through the door of his bedroom toilet. “It is three o’clock in the morning, it is dark, he is on his stumps,” Roux said, stressing his client’s vulnerability. “His balance is seriously compromised and... he would not be able to defend himself. He was anxious, he was frightened.
“His perception that he and the deceased were in danger was fortified by finding the open bathroom window. He believed the person in the toilet was an intruder and deceased was at the time in the bed,” Roux said.
In March, the Supreme Court of Appeal found Pistorius guilty of murder — irrespective of who was behind the door when he opened fire with a pistol he kept under his bed.
The standard jail term for murder in South Africa is 15 years, but Pistorius’s sentence may be reduced due to the year he has already spent in prison and mitigating factors, including his disability.
Roux urged judge Thokozile Masipa to “entertain the correct facts and not to be drowned by the many perceptions” whirling around the case that attracted years of intense public scrutiny. “The accused has lost everything. He can never ever resume his career,” Roux said.
“He lost his future... he has paid physically, he is the shadow of the man he was. He is a broken man, he has paid financially, he has paid socially. He is paying constantly.”
State lawyer Gerrie Nel started his arguments to push for a severe penalty. “He knew there was someone behind the door,” he said.
“Using a lethal weapon, a loaded firearm, the accused fired not one but four shots to the toilet door,” Nel said. “He failed to provide any acceptable version for his conduct.”
Pistorius was originally convicted of culpable homicide — the equivalent of manslaughter — until the appeal court upgraded his crime to murder. Judge Masipa, who gave the original verdict, is due to hand down a new sentence for murder after final arguments are completed.
Thursday is a national holiday in South Africa, and the sentence could be given on Friday — with Pistorius facing an immediate return to jail.
Earlier, Kim Martin, Reeva Steenkamp’s cousin, gave the last state evidence in the hearing.
“I never ever heard him say that ‘I apologize for shooting, murdering Reeva behind that door’,” she told the court.
“We just wanted the truth.”
She added that she was uncertain whether Pistorius and Steenkamp were in a truly loving relationship.
Barry Steenkamp, 73, Reeva’s father, had broken down in court on Tuesday as he said Pistorius must “pay for his crime” of shooting Reeva, 29, a model and law graduate. Pistorius was released from jail last October to live under house arrest at his uncle’s mansion in Pretoria after serving one year of his five-year sentence for culpable homicide.


Djibouti asks UN help to end border dispute with Eritrea

Djibouti’s UN ambassador, Mohamed Siad Doualeh. (Courtesy: Youtube)
Updated 54 min 26 sec ago
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Djibouti asks UN help to end border dispute with Eritrea

  • Eritrea had successfully resolved a dispute with Yemen over their sea boundary and a Red Sea island through binding international arbitration
  • Djibouti accused Eritrean troops of occupying the Dumeira mountain area

UNITED NATIONS: Djibouti is asking Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to help peacefully resolve a border dispute with Eritrea following the recent end to that nation’s 20-year border dispute with Ethiopia.
Djibouti’s UN ambassador, Mohamed Siad Doualeh, asked Guterres in a letter circulated Wednesday to work with the Security Council to bring his tiny port nation and Eritrea together “with the aim of facilitating an agreement between them upon a mutually acceptable means of peaceful dispute settlement.”
He said Djibouti’s preference would be to refer the dispute “to judicial settlement or arbitration” that would be legally binding.
Djibouti’s appeal to the UN chief follows the dramatic diplomatic thaw to one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts that began last month when Ethiopia’s reformist new prime minister fully accepted a peace deal that ended a 1998-2000 border war with Eritrea that killed tens of thousands.
Doualeh recalled that the Security Council imposed sanctions on Eritrea in 2009 “because of its aggression against Djibouti and its refusal to withdraw its troops from the disputed area, and its rejection of all efforts aimed at mediating between the two parties.”
Djibouti accused Eritrean troops of occupying the Dumeira mountain area shortly after the peacekeepers left on June 13, 2017, and lodged a formal complaint with the African Union.
“Eritrean forces continue to occupy Djiboutian territory, prisoners of war remain unaccounted for, threats of force continue to emanate from the Eritrean side and the risk of violent confrontation is once again high,” Doualeh said.
He warned that without any effort to end the border dispute, the UN monitoring group has said “the situation on the ground remains vulnerable to provocation by both parties, which could result in the rapid escalation of conflict.”
“There is thus an urgent need for a new dispute settlement mechanism,” Doualeh said.
He said Djibouti applauds the secretary-general’s recent decision to refer a longstanding border dispute between Venezuela and Guyana to the International Court of Justice. He also noted that Eritrea had successfully resolved a dispute with Yemen over their sea boundary and a Red Sea island through binding international arbitration.
Doualeh said Djibouti will “consider in good faith any proposals that you or the Security Council might make with regard to the appropriate means of peaceful dispute settlement.”