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Pistorius blamed for restaurant shot

Oscar Pistorius with his head in his hands at the third day of his murder trial in South AfricaIt is the third day of Oscar Pistorius’s murder trial, which is being partially televised live

A witness at the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius has said the South African athlete was responsible for a weapon being fired at a restaurant last year.

Boxer Kevin Lerena told the court that Mr Pistorius had asked the owner of the gun to take the blame.

The incident happened the month before Mr Pistorius shot dead his 29-year-old girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

The 27-year-old double amputee denies intentionally killing her, saying he mistook her for an intruder.

He also denies charges of illegally possessing ammunition.

Steenkamp, a model and reality TV star, was shot dead in the early hours of 14 February 2013 at Mr Pistorius’s home in the capital, Pretoria.

The arrest of a national sporting hero, who won gold at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and also competed at the Olympics, astounded South Africa.

‘In shock’

Mr Lerena, a professional boxer, is the fourth witness to take the stand at the trial, which began at the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

He testified that he had been in a restaurant in Johannesburg with Mr Pistorius and two other people, including Darren Fresco, in January 2013.

Mr Fresco had passed his firearm to Mr Pistorius and said “I’m one up”, meaning there was a bullet in the chamber of the gun, Mr Lerena said.

When the firearm was handed over a there was a shot followed by “complete silence”, the boxer added.

People gathered outside the Pretoria court on 5 March 2014There is intense interest in the case in South Africa

South African Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp pictured in December 2012South Africa was stunned when the athlete shot dead his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp

“I looked down, and where my foot was there was a hole in the floor,” he told the court. “I had a little graze on my toe, but I wasn’t hurt.”

Mr Pistorius had apologised and asked Mr Fresco to take the blame, which he had agreed to do, Mr Lerena said.

“Please, I don’t want any attention around me. Just say it was you,” he pleaded, according to Mr Lerena.

The BBC’s Andrew Harding, who is in the courtroom, says the questioning showed the prosecution’s broader attempt to prove that Mr Pistorius was trigger-happy.


Prosecutors say Mr Pistorius planned the killing and shot Steenkamp after a row.

Earlier witnesses at the trial were neighbours of the athlete who testified about the sounds they heard around the time of Steenkamp’s death.

The second witness, Estelle Van Der Merwe, said she had been woken by rowing voices that lasted about an hour before hearing four loud sounds.

If found guilty of premeditated murder, Mr Pistorius could face life imprisonment.

There are no juries at trials in South Africa, and his fate will ultimately be decided by Judge Thokozile Masipa.

Much of the case will depend on ballistic evidence from the scene of the shooting, correspondents say.

June Steenkamp

June Steenkamp: “One has to forgive, otherwise I will sit with all that anger”

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