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SYDNEY — Australia’s Seven Network has defended airing exclusive footage it obtained of Olympian and double amputee Oscar Pistorius re-enacting how he shot model Reeva Steenkamp and his actions in the minutes after the Valentine’s Day 2013 incident. A lawyer on behalf of Pistorius on Monday attacked the network for its broadcast.
Seven’s Sunday Night current affairs program aired the footage that had been prepared for Pistorius’ defense team by U.S.-based forensic animation experts, the Evidence Room. However, the video has not been used in court.
Pistorius is currently on trial in South Africa for Steenkamps’ premeditated murder.
Brian Webber, a lawyer for Pistorius, said the footage had been obtained illegally, and some legal experts believe it could cause a mistrial.
Webber said in a statement that the video was “obtained illegally and in breach of the nondisclosure agreement with the Evidence Room.”
“Channel Seven purchased this footage unlawfully,” said Webber, adding that the broadcaster had agreed not to air the material until the end of the trial.
“Whilst we cannot imagine how any of the footage would not support Oscar’s version, we will only be in a position to comment further once we have had the opportunity to study what has been aired.”
In a statement given to THR, Sunday Night executive producer Mark Llewellyn said the video would not have been shown if the channel had thought it was obtained unlawfully.
“This was a significant investigation by Walkley Award-winning journalists [Australia’s top journalism awards], examining the critical 85 minutes on Valentine’s Night 2013 when Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead by Oscar Pistorius. The material shown on Sunday Night goes to the heart of both the prosecution and defense cases, including the account provided by Oscar Pistorius,” Llewellyn said.
“We would not have run the footage if we thought we had obtained it illegally. The story was run in Australia only and not made available to any other territory,” he added.
AFP reports that Pistorius could push for a mistrial, according to a South African law professor.
Stephen Tuson, an associate law professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, said the origin of the footage is important.
“If it was produced by the defense as part of their investigation and preparation for the trial, it’s strictly privileged, it’s confidential and it cannot be used,” said Tuson.
“Whatever you tell your attorney is strictly confidential and privileged. If there’s a breach of that, there can be a mistrial.”
The re-enactment reportedly filmed at Pistorius’ uncle’s house, shows Pistorius without his prosthetic legs and with a raised fist that makes it look like he is armed with a pistol. He also demonstrates, with his sister, Aimee, how he carried Steenkamp’s body to his hallway after the shooting.
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