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Last updateDim, 25 Jan 2015 12pm

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Oscar Pistorius trial: All set for 'trial of the century'

South Africans as well as a global television audience are gearing up for the Oscar Pistorius trial which is due to start on Monday and is widely expected to be the most riveting murder trial since that of former US professional football player O.J. Simpson in California almost two decades ago.

The trial of Paralympian Oscar Pistorius is scheduled to run for three weeks in the North Gauteng High Court sitting in Pretoria.

It will be a high-stakes contest for both the prosecution and defence teams who will strut their stuff in the full glare of the international media.

Reporters from around the world have already set up camp in Pretoria with locals being urged to avoid the streets around the courthouse due to the satellite television trucks that are expected to stream every detail of the trial.

In a significant development, the court has ruled that the trial can be broadcast live, even though some parts will be screened out.

Pistorius, who was born with deformed legs, shot to international stardom when he outran able-bodied athletes on his “blades”.

But the dream turned into a nightmare a year ago when he gunned down his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his luxury Pretoria home on Valentine's Day.

The “Blade Runner”, as he is known, admitted firing the shots, but said he thought he was shooting an intruder.

The double-amputee will be represented by top senior counsel Barry Roux, who reportedly charges a minimum of US$5,000 a day for his services.

Roux is a formidable player and one journalist who covered Pistorius bail application last year noted that watching him cross-examining a witness is like watching a baby seal being clubbed to death.

Others in the Pistorius legal team are attorney Kenny Oldwadge and Johannesburg law firm Ramsay Webber Attorneys.

The state will be represented by Gerrie Nel, who will set out to prove that the tragedy was cold-blooded murder and that Pistorius had planned to shoot dead his girlfriend.

Four years ago, Nel secured a corruption conviction against the country’s top policeman, Commissioner Jackie Selebi, who was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.

In the middle will be Judge Thokozile Masipa, who became only the second black woman appointed to the High Court.

Previously a journalist and a social worker, she has expressed strong views about violence against women, handing maximum sentences to those she convicts.

In one of the many sideshows to what is likely to be one of the most closely-watched criminal trials in history, an Irish-based online gambling website is offering bets on whether Pistorius will be found guilty of murder.

As he prepares for the fight of his life, the 'Blade Runner' is betting that his lawyer can outsmart one of the giants of the legal fraternity.

The stakes could not be higher. If convicted, Pistorius faces up to 25 years in jail and a legacy in tatters.

Pana 03/08/2014