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Pistorius challenged about killing of girlfriend


PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Oscar Pistorius and the chief prosecutor at his murder trial sparred for a fifth day Tuesday over the athlete’s account of how he killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in his home last year.

Over the past week, Pistorius has come under intense pressure from Nel, who has said the double-amputee runner is lying in the witness box. Nel charges that Pistorius killed Steenkamp after an argument and made up a story about mistakenly shooting her after fearing an intruder was in his house.

Pistorius fatally shot Steenkamp through a closed toilet door in his home before dawn on Feb. 14, 2013. He faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder.

Pistorius has struggled to explain alleged inconsistencies during his testimony, sometimes breaking into sobs.

On Tuesday, Nel argued that alleged discrepancies in Pistorius’ bail statement in February 2013, shortly after the shooting, and his current testimony show that the athlete is again “tailoring” his account to try to create a more convincing story.

The prosecutor noted that last year, Pistorius said he opened fire out of fear after hearing a “movement” in the toilet cubicle – Nel said the choice of word suggested the athlete had heard a person behind the closed toilet door.

Since the bail statement, Pistorius has said he fired after hearing a “wood abrasion” sound that he interpreted as a possible intruder opening the toilet door to attack him.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said he would wrap up his cross-examination of Pistorius later Tuesday. He also asked the judge for a break in the trial that would begin later this week and end on May 5, due to other work commitments and “personal arrangements” made by prosecution and defense lawyers in the upcoming Easter holiday period.

Defense lawyer Barry Roux agreed with Nel’s request. Judge Thokozile Masipa said she would respond to the request on Wednesday.