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Judge bans live coverage of autopsy testimony

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PISTORIUS-BAILPRETORIA, March 10 – A South African court blocked all live broadcasts Monday of graphic postmortem details of Oscar Pistorius’s slain girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the star sprinter’s murder trial.

“There shall be no live broadcast of the evidence of Professor Saayman,” Judge Thokozile Masipa ruled before the testimony of Gert Saayman, who conducted the postmortem examination on the 29-year-old model and law graduate.

The state has called University of Pretoria pathologist Gert Saayman to give his account of the 29-year-old’s post-mortem.

Judge Thokozile Masipa was asked by both the prosecution and the defence not to allow live audio broadcast of the testimony because it is expected to be graphic.

Pistorius fired four shots at Steenkamp on February 14, 2013, hitting her three times. He denies a charge of murder.

The defence is expected to argue that the first shots were fatal, making it impossible for witnesses to have heard her scream as they claim.

The prosecution is expected to argue the last shot was the one that killed her.

In early proceedings on Monday Pistorius’s defence sought to undermine the state’s assertion that the sprinter told a security guard “everything was fine” after he shot his girlfriend.

Pistorius’s lawyer Barry Roux attempted to show a statement made by security guard Pieter Baba proved the Paralympic sprinter phoned security and said “I’m okay.”

Last week, in testimony that cast doubt on the Paralympian’s claims of a “tragic accident,” Baba told the court that after he was informed that gunshots were heard coming from the runner’s house, he phoned Pistorius, who told him “everything is fine.”

Roux pointed out that in the first statement Baba made, he said Pistorius told him “I’m okay.”

Roux also said that phone records showed the sprinter phoned Baba first.

“I prove to you the fact was Pistorius phoned first and you returned that call very shortly,” said Roux.

But Baba, wearing an orange plaid shirt, dug in his heels. “My lady, it is obvious that our times are not the same,” he said, insisting that “Mr Pistorius told me that everything is fine.”

Following Baba, the state called Saayman to the witness stand.

As court adjourned for a break, Pistorius’s sister Aimee sat with her older brother in the dock.

Pistorius looked agitated, rubbing his hands on his head, while Aimee hugged him, occasionally talking into his ear.

The sprinter’s long-time coach, Ampie Louw, and ex-girlfriend Samantha Taylor are present in the courtroom.

Last week Taylor testified Pistorius often carried a gun, and fired a shot out of a moving car after a confrontation with police.

Though Pistorius walked past Taylor, a button-nosed blonde wearing a white jacket, during the adjournment, the former lovers didn’t acknowledge each other.

At the start of the day, judge Masipa issued a new court order banning media from publishing photos of private court witnesses for the duration of the trial, saying “private witnesses are more vulnerable than public figures.”

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