Pistorius' watch vanished while police combed house, court told

Fri Mar 14, 2014 11:56am EDT
 
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By John Mkhize

PRETORIA (Reuters) - South African police faced further embarrassment at the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius on Friday when it emerged that a valuable watch had vanished from the crime scene and a ballistic expert had handled the athlete's gun without gloves.

The Olympic and Paralympic 'Blade Runner' denies the premeditated murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year, saying he shot her in a tragic accident after mistaking her for a night-time intruder.

On day 10 of the trial, Colonel Schoombie Van Rensburg, the first policeman to arrive at Pistorius' home in an upmarket Pretoria estate, expressed his anger at forensic blunders but had his own work called into question by the defense.

Van Rensburg said the missing watch was one of eight found in the house.

"I told the whole forensic team that those watches were a big concern of mine," he told the court. "Then one of the forensic experts mentioned that this particular watch, a green and black one, was valued between 50,000 and 100,000 rand ($4,650 to $9,300).

"I went down to the garage, then one of the officers came and mentioned that one of these watches is missing. And I said 'What do you mean? I can't believe it. We were just there.'"

He said everyone in the house, including all of the police officers present, were then subjected to a body search and their cars were also swept, but the watch had vanished.

POLICE CREDIBILITY   Continued...

 
Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius sits beside a green pail in the dock during court proceedings at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria March 14, 2014. REUTERS/Phill Magakoe/Pool