Pistorius Trial Expected To Begin March 2014

Oscar Pistorius, former Olympics and Paralympics sprint runner, is accused of killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day in 2013.

The 30-year-old died from multiple gunshot wounds at Pistorius' upmarket home in Pretoria.
Pistorius denies murder and said he shot through a toilet door after mistaking his girlfriend for a nighttime intruder.

Here is the latest on Pistorius' murder trial, due to start on 3 March 2014.

Who is Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa?

Eloquent, experienced, a firm believer in the hegemony of law with more than 15 years experience on the bench, Judge Masipa has been appointed to preside over the trial.

Masipa was a crime reporter whose stories often told of the indignities of life under apartheid, the Times reports.

In 1998, Masipa became the second black woman to be appointed to the high court - after Lucy Mailula - and made headlines worldwide when she sentenced serial rapist and robber Shepherd Moyo in 2013.

Masipa said in her judgment that the three rape victims had been left traumatised for life and Moyo's lack of remorse made it unlikely he could be rehabilitated.

After she sentenced to life imprisonment two men who had raped a woman in 2001, Masipa said that violence, and especially the rape of women and children, was escalating at an alarming rate in South Africa according to Business Day Live.

The judge added that women "feel unsafe, even in the sanctity of their own homes, and look to these courts to protect their interests", which courts could do "by meting out harsh sentences".

In 2009, Masipa condemned policeman Freddy Mashamba to life jail. Mashamba had shot and killed his ex-wife after a row over their divorce settlement.

"No one is above the law. You deserve to go to jail for life because you are not a protector. You are a killer," she ruled.

Disagreement over media broadcast

Media houses have asked the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa for permission to broadcast Pistorius' murder trial, the Times reports.

A 24-hour TV channel dedicated to the upcoming trial will reportedly be launched on DSTV a day before the star athlete goes on trial.

Judge Masipa is considering the possibility of allowing live television broadcasts of the trial in court.

However, Pistorius' defence lawyers are strongly opposing applications by South African television stations.

Pistorius' attorney Kenneth Oldwadge told the Associated Press that the defence was arguing against the TV applications, which he said sought permission from the judge to broadcast the entire trial live.

National Prosecuting Authority senior spokesman Nathi Mncube said: "We feel that would not serve any interest, especially the interest of justice".

Additional charges

Pistorius is to face two additional gun-related charges.

Prior to the killing of Steenkamp, Pistorius is believed to have fired a gun in public.

"The new charges relate to the contravention of the Firearm Control Act, but I cannot go into the details," Nathi Mncube, spokesman for South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority said.