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Oscar Pistorius Removes Prosthetic Legs In Court

15/06/2016 11:57 | Updated 15 June 2016

Double-amputee Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius removed his prosthetic legs in court to demonstrate he is a vulnerable man who deserves leniency.

It was a tactic of the defence team representing Pistorius, who was convicted of murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Defense lawyer Barry Roux on Wednesday asked Pistorius to remove his prostheses, and the former track star then hobbled in front of Judge Thokozile Masipa, who will deliver the sentence after hearings end this week.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
Oscar Pistorius walks across the courtroom without his prosthetic legs during the third day of the resentencing hearing for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

The 29-year-old appeared unsteady at times, and the demonstration drew gasps from some onlookers in the courtroom.

The former track star, who had changed from a suit into athletic clothes for the demonstration, then returned to a bench where he sat alone, head bowed.

Pistorius was on his stumps when he fatally shot Steenkamp through a toilet cubicle door in his home in 2013.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
Pistorius prepares to remove his prosthetic legs for the demonstration

He testified at his murder trial that he felt vulnerable and thought an intruder was in the house.

Prosecutors have said Pistorius intentionally killed Steenkamp after an argument.

Chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel later spoke, countering the defence argument that Pistorius is a "broken man" because of the grief from killing Steenkamp and the trauma that followed as the world focused on his case. Nel referred to the emotional testimony a day earlier of Barry Steenkamp, father of the victim.

"If you ever want to talk about a broken man, we saw a broken man there," Nel said of Barry Steenkamp.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
The 29-year-old removes the prosthetic limbs 

Pistorius is currently living under house arrest after initially serving one year of a five-year prison sentence for manslaughter for shooting Steenkamp multiple times in 2013. That conviction was overturned last year by an appeals court, which convicted Pistorius of the more serious charge of murder.

Masipa, who initially acquitted Pistorius of murder, will decide the new sentence.

The hearing is scheduled to run for the rest of this week. South Africa has a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison for murder, although a judge can reduce that in some circumstances.

AP

Earlier on Wednesday, defense lawyer Roux said there are misconceptions over Pistorius' murder conviction as he asked Masipa for leniency. Roux said "substantial and compelling circumstances" existed that would allow the judge to deviate from the minimum term of 15 years in prison.

Roux's plea to Judge Masipa followed the testimony of the final witness at the hearing, a cousin of Steenkamp, who accused Pistorius himself of not giving the "true version" of the shooting.

The cousin, Kim Martin, also criticized Pistorius for not testifying at this week's sentencing hearing but agreeing to a television interview that will be broadcast after the hearing ends.

POOL New / Reuters
Barry Steenkamp 

"I think it's very unfair to want to talk to the world about your version when you had the opportunity in court to do so," Martin said.

But Roux listed what he said were misconceptions that still existed about the shooting and the Supreme Court of Appeal's decision last year to change Pistorius' conviction to murder.

Roux said the first misconception was that people believed Pistorius was convicted of murder for intentionally killing Steenkamp.

The Supreme Court found Pistorius guilty of murder in that he realized that someone might die as a result of his actions and went ahead anyway. The ruling didn't say that Pistorius knew it was Steenkamp - and not an intruder, as he claimed he thought it was - behind the door.

Roux also said it was not the "strong, ambitious" Pistorius, the Olympic runner and multiple Paralympic champion, who fired four shots that night. Rather, it was a disabled man standing on his stumps and in fear for his life, Roux argued.

"It was not the man winning gold medals that must be judged," the defense lawyer said. "It is common cause it is a 1.85-meter man standing on his stumps at 3 o'clock in the morning in the dark that must be judged."

While prosecutors are seeking a long jail term for the 29-year-old Pistorius, his defense has argued that he should be spared prison and allowed to do community work with children.

  • Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
    Paralympic gold medalist Oscar Pistorius prepares to walk across the courtroom without his prosthetic legs during the third day of the resentencing hearing for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, at Pretoria High Court, South Africa June 15, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
  • Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
    A Police officer looks on as Paralympic gold medalist Oscar Pistorius's prosthetic legs are seen during the third day of the resentencing hearing for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, at Pretoria High Court, South Africa June 15, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
  • Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
    Paralympic gold medalist Oscar Pistorius walks across the courtroom without his prosthetic legs during the third day of the resentencing hearing for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, at Pretoria High Court, South Africa June 15, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
  • POOL New / Reuters
    Oscar Pistorius reacts during the third day of his resentencing hearing for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa June 15, 2016. REUTERS/Alon Skuy/Pool
  • POOL New / Reuters
    Oscar Pistorius reacts during the third day of his resentencing hearing for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa June 15, 2016. REUTERS/Alon Skuy/Pool
  • Pool via Getty Images
    PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 15: Reeva Steenkamp's cousin Kim Martin looks on after testifying during Oscar Pistorius' hearing for a resentence at Pretoria High Court on June 15, 2016 in Pretoria, South Africa. Having had his conviction upgraded to murder in December 2015, Paralympian athlete Oscar Pistorius is attending his sentencing hearing and will be returned to jail for the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14th 2013. The hearing is expected to last five days. (Photo by Siphiwe Sibeko - Pool/Getty Images)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Barry Steenkamp, back centre, father of the late Reeve Steenkamp, eyes Oscar Pistorius, front, in the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, June 15, 2016 on the third day of the double-amputee runner's sentencing hearing for murdering his girlfriend. An appeals court found Pistorius guilty of murder and not a lesser charge of culpable homicide for the shooting death of Steenkamp. (Alon Skuy, Pool Photo via AP)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Oscar Pistorius, left, arrives at the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, June 15, 2016, for his sentencing proceedings. Kim Martin, a cousin of Reeva Steenkamp, has testified in the South African court at the sentencing hearing for Pistorius, who was convicted of murdering girlfriend Steenkamp in his home in 2013. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Oscar Pistorius, left, hugs his estranged father Henke Pistorius as he appears in the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, June 15, 2016 on the third day of the double-amputee runner's sentencing hearing for murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. An appeals court found Pistorius guilty of murder and not a lesser charge of culpable homicide for the shooting death of Steenkamp. (AP Photo/Siphiwe Sibeko, Pool)
  • Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
    Paralympic gold medalist Oscar Pistorius prepares to walk across the courtroom without his prosthetic legs during the third day of the resentencing hearing for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, at Pretoria High Court, South Africa June 15, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
  • POOL New / Reuters
    Oscar Pistorius reacts during the third day of his resentencing hearing for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa June 15, 2016. REUTERS/Alon Skuy/Pool
  • POOL New / Reuters
    June Steenkamp is seated in court during the third day of Oscar Pistorius's resentencing hearing for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa June 15, 2016. REUTERS/Alon Skuy/Pool
  • Themba Hadebe/AP
    Reeva Steenkamp's father Barry Steenkamp, left, with wife June, arrives at the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, June 15, 2016, for the sentencing proceedings of Oscar Pistorius. An appeals court found Pistorius guilty of murder, and not culpable homicide, for the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeve Steenkamp. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
  • POOL New / Reuters
    Oscar Pistorius enters the dock during the third day of his resentencing hearing for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa June 15, 2016. REUTERS/Alon Skuy/Pool
  • POOL New / Reuters
    Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock during the third day of his resentencing hearing for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa June 15, 2016. REUTERS/Alon Skuy/Pool
  • KAREL PRINSLOO via Getty Images
    South African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius leaves the Pretoria High Court during a lunch break on June 15, 2016, the third day of pre-sentencing hearing for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp three years ago. A sobbing Oscar Pistorius walked hesitantly on his stumps around court on June 15 in a dramatic demonstration of his disability ahead of his sentencing for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. / AFP / KAREL PRINSLOO (Photo credit should read KAREL PRINSLOO/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
    Paralympic gold medalist Oscar Pistorius reacts during the third day of the resentencing hearing for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, at Pretoria High Court, South Africa June 15, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
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