Pistorius’ pathologist refuses to testify

Pretoria: A star pathologist hired by Oscar Pistorius told AFP on Thursday he will not testify at the athlete’s murder trial, another blow for his defence after a week of savage cross-examination. Private forensic pathologist Reggie Perumal — who joined Pistorius’s hand-picked team soon after Reeva Steenkamp was killed on Valentine’s Day morning 2013 — will not take the stand, amid suggestions his post-mortem findings support key parts of the prosecution’s case.

Perumal has appeared in many high-profile cases in South Africa, where a private pathologist can cost upwards of $2,000 a day.He was hired by Pistorius in time to attend the model’s autopsy. When asked if he would testify, the Durban-based pathologist told AFP “no, ma’am.”

“I think you’re aware that I can’t say anything right now.”Perumal’s absence from the witness box casts further doubt on the believability of Pistorius’s story, after a week which saw the Paralympic star and one of his hired experts torn to shreds by prosecutor Gerrie Nel.

Nel drew a number of concessions during his cross-examination of Pistorius, who was at times argumentative, evasive and emotional on the witness stand.On Thursday Nel hammered defence expert Roger Dixon, a forensic geologist who testified on key elements of the Pistorius crime scene, including the order of the bullets that hit Steenkamp.

Nel, a legal veteran known as the “Pit Bull”, derided the quality of the expert’s testimony, accusing him of “misleading” the court. “I am not trying to mislead the court,” said Dixon.Perumal’s unusual decision not to testify has attracted the attention of his fellow forensic pathologists. “I have heard that it might be because he refused to amend his version,” said Steve Naidoo, a Durban-based private forensic pathologist. “If so, and if Dr Perumal is not willing to twist the truth, then it’s to his tremendous credit.”

Naidoo, who said he has not talked directly to Perumal about the Pistorius case, said “an expert forensic pathologist, independent or otherwise, must remember his function is firstly toward the court.”  AP

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