Updated 30 April 2014

Will the break help or hinder Oscar?

The Oscar Pistorius trial has been on hold for over a week now, with a further week until the case resumes. Will this work in Oscar’s favour, or could it be a nail in his coffin?


The motion for this extensive break was brought by the prosecution under the premise that they had other cases to deal with. This has less to do with poor scheduling and more with the expansive nature of this gripping trial.

The entire trial was initially expected to last just three weeks but has run to seven, with a court record of almost 2 000 pages. Furthermore, the defence expect to call another 15 to 17 witnesses, which means that this trial is far from over. Expect to see a lot more wily questioning from Roux and brutal cross-examination from Nel.

Read: How the police can ruin a crime scene

For the accused himself, the break could prove to be both a blessing and a curse. The time in court has clearly taken its toll on Oscar who not only broke down several times during cross-examination but also vomited on a number of occasions.

He may welcome the opportunity away from the wooden bench he has occupied for almost two months. His performance under cross-examination certainly suggested a man not in the best frame of mind, claims psychiatrist Professor Michael Simpson. It is clear is that the brief adjournments granted when Pistorius was overcome during cross-examination helped him to recover.

Read: Oscar, what we still don't know

20 years behind bars?
However, the longer this trial drags on, the longer Pistorius remains in suspense. If guilty, he faces over 20 years behind bars. If the judge finds otherwise, he might spend much less time in prison, or even none at all. Few commentators have so far been willing to place their bets on how Judge Masipa will rule, leaving Oscar’s future in the balance.

The vague consensus so far, though, is that if anyone is on the back foot, it’s Oscar. With a number of witnesses left to call, the break will provide the defence with an opportunity to regroup and determine how to optimally use these witnesses in their client’s defence.

Read: Where Dixon went wrong

For the prosecution, the break provides the same opportunity to tighten up their arguments. But it could also take away some of the momentum built up during the brutal cross-examination of expert witness Roger Dixon. Dr David Klatzow, speaking to SAfm, believed that Dixon opened himself up to harsh scrutiny by stepping outside of his area of expertise.

Judge Masipa, in her ruling on the motion, explained how she had considered whether granting the adjournment would prejudice Pistorius. Citing the fact that he was on bail, and has been for many months, as well as the fact that only seven working days would be lost, she decided that the break would not be unfair to Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius has denied guilt on all charges.

What do you think? Who will be favoured by the break? Let us know in the comments.

Read more:
Why is Oscar vomiting?
How Reeva died
Oscar's cross-examination analysed

Sources: City Press/SABC


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