Celebrity trial

July 04, 2014 - 5:35:06 am

With high drama and emotions, the Pistorius trial has all ingredients of 

a celebrity court battle.

The trial of Oscar Pistorius has reached a stage in which the both sides are trying to outdo the other by twisting facts and playing with evidence to suit their case. Prosecution is trying to depict the double amputee athlete as a blood-thirsty egomaniac who didn’t hesitate to shoot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp dead in a burst of rage on a Valentine Day night. The defence, however, is bent on telling the jury that Pistorius shot her accidentally at his home, mistaking her for an intruder late in the night.  

The latest legal scrum on both sides revolves around the psychological and psychiatric evaluation of the celebrity athlete, who spent a month with mental health experts trying to peel the layers of his personality and disposition. Pistorius, also called the blade runner, have had a controversial run in the past few years of his life. He was more than once in the news for shooting off his gun without provocation in public. The counsel for the prosecution has pressed the case on the ground that Pistorius is a hot-headed and temperamental person who can shoot at the slightest provocation. 

Pistorius’ psychological and psychiatric analysis says he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after undergoing severe stress after the murder and shock during the trial, which has gone viral in South African and elsewhere. The athlete has projected an image of frailty in the courtroom. Often breaking down in tears during testimonies, he has thrown up several times and covered his ears with his hands to show he doesn’t want to hear what was being said. Overall, Pistorius has tried to paint a courtroom image of himself as one in need of sympathy. 

The psychologists’ report also declares him to be at high risk of suicide. The champion’s trial embodies a rising proclivity of celebrity trials to become celebrations of human frailties. Such court dramas are not only a proof that society takes a likely pleasure in misfortunes that have befallen the rich and famous. 

To his backers, Pistorius is a victim of his vulnerabilities as the absence of legs predisposes him to threats which are less dangerous for those who don’t have the disability. His defence contends he shot through the bathroom door with Steenkamp on the other side as a result of panicking when he heard noises from inside. His purported vulnerability to threats because of the childhood disability, it is being said, makes him react aggressively to perceived dangers.  The prosecution argues Pistorius is mercurial and hostile and is trying to dramatise his reactions to his girlfriends’ death to win sympathy from the jury. The murder lawsuit has many loose ends—some strengthening the case against Pistorius and others going to his advantage. A question, however, remains—didn’t he try to feel the presence of his girlfriend who was sleeping on the same bed, before shooting off his gun?