Pistorius: No evidence I fired shots because of argument

Media gather outside the high court in Pretoria. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Media gather outside the high court in Pretoria. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

The state's claim that Oscar Pistorius shot Reeva Steenkamp during an argument is "unfair and incorrect", the high court in Pretoria heard on Monday.

"No evidence can be tendered that I fired the shots because of the argument," Kenny Oldwage, for Pistorius, said. He was reading from Pistorius's plea explanation.

The state will try to prove that Pistorius (27) intended to kill Steenkamp in his Pretoria home on February 14 last year.

His lawyers will argue that he mistook her for an intruder when he shot her through a closed toilet door.

Earlier, the court heard that the contamination of the crime scene at murder-accused Olympian and Paralympian Pistorius's Pretoria home would be dealt with.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel gave this undertaking as he handed in photographs as evidence. These included pictures from the postmortem, the crime scene and Tasha's restaurant.

Not guilty
A report of the weather conditions on February 14 last year, between 3am and 4am, was also handed in.

Pistorius pleaded not guilty to murder on Monday as his trial got underway 90 minutes after officials tried to locate an Afrikaans interpreter at the last minute.

Another bid by a woman, who also disrupted the his bail hearing, also contributed to the late start.

Resolve logistical problems
The mysterious woman, who gave her name only as Anna-Marie and claimed she knew Pistorius's late mother, was led out of the building just before 11am, after she tried to launch an application in the high court.

Court officials then explained they had also managed to resolve logistical problems related to translation services for the trial – reportedly because one of the witnesses wanted to testify in Afrikaans.

Proceedings finally began at 11.30am, with prosecutor Gerrie Nel formally bringing a charge of premeditated murder.

Asked to plead, Pistorius responded: "Not guilty."

The prosecutor and a team of senior detectives will set out to prove in coming weeks that Pistorius deliberately shot and killed Steenkamp, while she cowered behind a locked toilet door in his home on Valentine's Day last year.

Nel proceeded to read further charges relating to contravention of the Firearms Control Act, some relating to an incident in a restaurant in Melrose Arch months before Steenkamp's death.

Asked by Judge Thokozile Masipa how he pleaded, Pistorius to each count responded: "Not guilty, my lady."

Disputing the state's argument
Oldwage, then read Pistorius's version of events to the court. "Reeva must have gone to a toilet, [and] closed the sliding doors," Oldwage read to the court.

"I approached the bathroom to defend Reeva and I.

"There was no basis whatsoever for the state's contention that he had wanted to kill Steenkamp," Pistorius's statement continued.

It disputed the state's argument that there had been a row between the couple on the night of the shooting, and denied that Pistorius wore his prosthesis when he fired four shots into the locked door.

Pistorius, dressed in a black suit and tie, arrived at court early in the morning, carrying a pen and notebook and a small green pillow to sit on in the dock.

His family and Steenkamp's mother June sat in the front seats of the court room, some distance from each other.

Media presence
Also in court was police investigating officer Vineshkumar Moonoo –? assigned to the case after a faltering start for the police last year – and detective Captain Mike van Aardt.

The proceedings in the courtroom will be broadcast live on television and radio, with the initial indictment listing 107 witnesses to testify for the state.

More than 300 reporters have vied for space in the court room and a scrum of local and foreign photographers have set up watch outside the court. – Sapa

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