Oscar Pistorius murder trial to be broadcast live
South African judge rules testimony given by double-amputee 'Blade Runner' can't be shown
Parts of Oscar Pistorius's murder trial can be broadcast live on television by three remote-controlled cameras, a judge ruled Tuesday, but testimony given by the double-amputee athlete can't be shown.
High Court Judge Dunstan Mlambo granted permission to South African media houses to install the cameras in "unobtrusive" locations to show much of Pistorius' blockbuster trial, which could now be watched by millions in South Africa and around the world.
Pistorius' defense lawyers had opposed any part of the trial being broadcast, saying it would harm his chances of receiving a fair trial.
"Court proceedings are in fact public and this objective must be recognized," Mlambo said before delivering his ruling.
Brian Webber, a lawyer for Pistorius, declined to initially comment on the ruling saying he had to study it.
Opening arguments by the prosecution and the defense can be shown live, Mlambo said, along with the presiding judge's decision and sentencing, should double-amputee Olympian Pistorius be convicted of murder for the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Expert witnesses' testimony can be shown but not that of Pistorius or "his witnesses," the judge said.
Restrictions could also be placed on other witness testimony if they object to their time in court being shown on TV, Mlambo said. The court would then consider showing such testimonies from behind the witness or obscuring their face.
No parts of confidential discussions between Pistorius and his lawyers can be broadcast in any way, he said in his judgment from a court in South Africa's capital, Pretoria.
The judge also gave permission for two still cameras to be set up to take photographs inside the court, but ruled that no camera, television or still, will be allowed to record an "extreme" close up image of anyone in the court. He also said no lighting or flashes would be allowed for any of the recordings.
A live audio feed of the proceedings will be permitted through the trial, with restrictions placed if witnesses also object 24 hours in advance to their testimony being heard.
Mlambo said South African democracy was still relatively young, and acknowledged a view that "the justice system is still perceived as treating the rich and famous with kid gloves whilst being harsh on the poor and vulnerable." Enabling a larger section of South African society to get a firsthand look at the trial will go a long way in dispelling "these negative and unfounded perceptions" about the justice system, he said.
The television cameras would not be manned in court but rather controlled from another room, which could be inspected by the judge presiding over the trial, Mlambo said.
The applications to broadcast the trial were brought by a South African television news station, a cable provider which will launch a 24-hour channel focusing on the Pistorius trial and a radio news network.