Pistorius channel goes on air in South Africa

GERALD IMRAY, Associated Press
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Photographers take photos of Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius as he stands in the dock during his bail hearing at the magistrates court in Pretoria, South Africa on Feb. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

Photographers take photos of Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius as he stands in the dock during his bail hearing at the magistrates court in Pretoria, South Africa on Feb. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — A cable TV channel devoted to the Oscar Pistorius murder trial went on air in South Africa on Sunday night showing footage of the blonde model the world-famous athlete shot dead at his home a year ago. The video includes footage of her playing with dolphins.

The 24-hour channel began broadcasting just over 12 hours before Pistorius is expected in court for the start of his trial.

Dedicated completely to the trial, some of its early programming focused on the life of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, the model and reality TV star Pistorius killed on Valentine’s Day last year when he fired shots through a toilet door at his house. In one video taken by security camera, a smiling Steenkamp is seen arriving at the gated community where Pistorius lived just hours before she was killed. There was also video of her swimming with dolphins while shooting a reality TV show for South African television. At one point, two dolphins tap their snouts on her cheeks.

As Pistorius’ trial starts on Monday, live television pictures and a live audio feed will be broadcast from the courtroom at North Gauteng High Court in the South African capital, Pretoria, after permission was granted by a judge. Pistorius’ lawyers opposed the applications to broadcast the trial on television and radio.

The channel, called “The Oscar Pistorius Trial – A Carte Blanche channel” is on South Africa’s most popular cable TV network which is one of the three broadcasters which asked the judge to allow live coverage of the trial. Three remote-controlled cameras have been installed in the courtroom.

There are some restrictions on the live broadcasts of the trial. Testimony by Pistorius and defense witnesses will not be shown because of objections by his defense team. Some prosecution witnesses can also ask for their testimony not to be shown and the trial judge, Thokozile Masipa, has the option of stopping the live coverage if it becomes intrusive.

Pistorius faces charges of murder, illegal possession of ammunition and two additional counts relating to shooting a gun in public in two separate incidents before the Valentine’s Day slaying of Steenkamp last year.

Pistorius denies murder and says he shot Steenkamp after mistaking her for a dangerous intruder inside a toilet cubicle in his bathroom during the night.

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