Pretoria: The judge overseeing Oscar Pistorius’s murder trial has granted an adjournment from Thursday afternoon until 5 May, citing scheduling concerns raised on behalf of the state.
The prosecution, with the backing of the defence, had asked for a delay because an assistant prosecutor is involved on another case and other members of the legal team had planned holidays.
“A private matter always poses a challenge, especially when it is a long-term matter," said Judge Thokozile Masipa.
“For that reason it will take precedence," said the judge. “As well as the fact that counsel have made themselves available way beyond the time that was initially estimated."
Judge Masipa said she and her assessors will use the time to study the hefty record, which runs over 2,000 pages excluding the bail application.
“Much of the evidence is technical evidence from expert witnesses, there is a lot of reading to be done and my assessors and I will use the break to read the record," she said.
Taking into account Easter holidays, the adjournment is for seven working days, a period the judge said was “not unduly long" and could “hardly cause the accused prejudice."
The Pistorius murder trial has run far over the originally allotted time of three weeks.
The Paralympic gold medallist has pleaded not guilty to intentionally killing his girlfriend, 29-year-old model and law graduate Reeva Steenkamp.
He has also pleaded not guilty to three other charges connected with the reckless discharge of a firearm and the illegal possession of ammunition.
The 27-year-old stepped down from the witness stand Tuesday, after a gruelling cross-examination by state prosecutor Gerrie Nel.
Legal experts said Pistorius, who was evasive and argumentative on the stand, did himself more harm than good.
“I think it’s a desperate man," said William Booth, a criminal lawyer based in Cape Town. “The more questions you ask somebody like Oscar, it could actually get worse."
Pistorius’s attorney Barry Roux indicated the defence may finish calling its witnesses by mid-May.
If the defence concludes its case by then, another postponement is likely before concluding arguments.