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Oscar Pistorius admitted Thursday being “stupid” and “negligent” when a gun he was holding went off in a restaurant in an upscale shopping mall - but denied he had pulled the trigger.
The double-amputee Olympian was cross-examined about the incident, which happened when a friend passed the gun under a table at the restaurant in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Prosecution lawyer Gerrie Nel was incredulous about athlete’s account of the incident, describing his version of events as “amazing” and “a miracle.”
The pair clashed on the sprinter's fourth day in the witness box at his trial, where he is accused of deliberately killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year and firing a gun in public on previous occasions.
Pistorius maintains that the weapon went off as it was being passed by his friend, Darren Fresco. “I think we were both negligent,” the runner said. “It was a stupid thing to do, it was negligent.”
“You had the firearm when the shot went off?” Nel asked.
“I physically didn’t discharge it. It went off when it was in my possession but I did not have my finger on the trigger.”
Nel said: “As shot went off but you didn’t fire it?”
“Correct,” Pistorius replied.
Nel asked Pistorius how his version of events could be correct when a weapons expert had testified that it was impossible for the gun in question to fire without the trigger being pulled – testimony that was not challenged by defense lawyers.
“Will you not accept that your finger was on the trigger?” Nel asked. “Why don’t you want to say it?”
“Because my finger was not on the trigger,” Pistorius replied.
"You are not willing to accept responsibility. That is troubling"
Nel asked why Pistorius had not challenged the expert’s testimony at the time, to which Pistorius responded that it was a matter for his lawyers.
“You will blame anybody but yourself,” Nel said. "Who pulled the trigger? You know for a fact that your finger wasn’t on your trigger, know for a fact that a shot was discharged. That’s amazing. It cannot happen.”
Nel added: “You are not willing to accept responsibility. That is troubling.”
“You fired that gun,” Nel said. “There’s no other way that gun could have been fired.”
Nel also accused Pistorius of “hiding the truth” about the incident. The athlete admitted asking friends not to talk about what had happened, but said he did so in order to avoid “negative” reports in the media.
Nel also pressured Pistorius into admitting he was “agitated” during an incident in which he is accused of firing a gun through the sunroof of a car he was traveling in that had been stopped by cops for speeding.
And he forced the sprinter to admit he was negligent in the way he handled ammunition stored his home, sometimes forgetting to keep it in a safe as required by law.
“At times I may have forgotten to put it in the safe,” Pistorius said.
“At least we know that sometimes you are negligent,” Nel said.
“That’s correct,” the athlete replied.
The trial continues.