Defense Tries to Shake Witness in Pistorius Trial

(PRETORIA, South Africa) — The chief defense lawyer in Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial sought on Wednesday to undermine the prosecution testimony of a couple who say they heard screams and gunfire the night the athlete fatally shot his girlfriend, saying similarities in their accounts indicated that they had aligned their versions at the expense of the truth. Charl Johnson, a neighbor of the double-amputee runner, had resumed his testimony on the third day of the trial after telling the court in Pretoria, the South African capital, that he heard the cries of a terrified woman and shooting around the time that Pistorius killed Reeva Steenkamp in what the athlete said was an accident in the early hours of Valentine’s Day last year. Johnson’s wife, Michelle Burger, had given similar testimony and at one point broke down in tears because of what she said was the memory of the terrified screams of a woman. Defense lawyer Barry Roux said there were differences between the statements that Johnson and Burger had given to police after the shooting, and testimony that they gave in court. Both the statements and the testimony shared similarities, Roux said, implying that the couple had contaminated their evidence by talking through what they were going to say. “You could just as well have stood together in the witness box,” Roux said. “What do you say to that?” The tart assertion drew a caution from Judge Thokozile Masipa, who told Roux he had gone too far. Roux contended that crucial elements in the testimony of the couple were missing in their earlier comments to police, including the statements that they heard a woman’s screams rising in anxiety and intensity and that they heard the woman’s voice “fading” after the last in a volley of gunshots. Johnson suggested that he and his wife were more expressive while testifying in court than when providing information for a police document. “I would venture a guess that it’s the way you verbally tell the story,” he said. “There’s a lot more emotion involved……….

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Fake Interpreter From Mandela Memorial Enters Psychiatric Hospital

The sign language interpreter who inspired international ire for using bogus signs while translating eulogies for Nelson Mandela reportedly checked into a psychiatric hospital on Tuesday night. “The past few days have been hard,” interpreter Thamsanqa Jantjie’s wife Siziwe told Johannesburg’s Star Newspaper. “We have been supportive because he might have had a breakdown.” Jantjie, who flailed his arms and signed words like “prawns” and “rocking horses” during eulogies from dignitaries, said that he had suffered a schizophrenic episode and saw angels coming into the stadium. Although an interpreter from the Deaf Federation of South Africa said that Jantjie had been criticized for shoddy work in the past, the African National Congress (ANC) said it had used him before and was unaware of complaints or a history of illness.

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Mandela’s Memorial: Dozens of World Leaders Descend on Johannesburg’s Soccer City

Of all the remarkable scenes prompted by the death of Nelson Mandela, one of the most astonishing will happen inside the VIP section at his memorial service Tuesday and his funeral Sunday. The full list of foreign heads of states and royalty released by the South African government runs to 84 countries — a literal A to Z of the world — as well as several international organizations. For the host, South Africa, the guest list also throws up some intriguing, and some awkward, seating possibilities for the main memorial on Dec. 10. How will Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s experience of American pressure compare with that of Afghan President Hamid Karzai? Maybe they could open the discussion to a round table with U.S. President Barack Obama, and former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. It might get awkward if the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, finds himself next to the President of Pakistan, Mamnoon Hussain, or the President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, for that matter. And just to be safe, keep Serbia’s President Tomas Tomislav Nikolic away from Croatia’s President Josipovic Ivo, and Sudanese Vice President Bakri Hassan Salih apart from South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit. (MORE: The World Reacts to Nelson Mandela’s Death) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not attending, which makes seating Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Saudi Arabia’s Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz al-Saud perhaps a bit easier. And, hey, just for kicks, why not stick Prince Charles next to Cuba’s Raúl Castro? They’ve got keeping it in the family in common, after all. The attendees for Mandela’s burial Dec. 15 in his home village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape are yet to be confirmed, though that ceremony is expected to be focused on family and friends. Tuesday’s national memorial service, held at the FNB Stadium, also known as Soccer City, outside Johannesburg, is the more global event and its speakers will have a distinctly new world flavor. Apart from Obama, Mukherjee and Castro, they include……..

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World Leaders Mourn the Death of Nelson Mandela

U.S. President Barack Obama addressed the nation Thursday after the death of Nelson Mandela, heralding South Africa’s inspirational freedom fighter: “[Mandela] no longer belongs to us, he belongs to the ages.” “Madiba transformed South Africa and moved all of us,” Obama said. “His journey from a prisoner to a president embodied the promise that human beings — and countries — can change for the better.” Mandela’s achievement was of great personal significance to Obama, who said his first political action was a protest against apartheid. “The day that he was released from prison gave me a sense of what human beings can do when they’re guided by their hopes and not their fears,” Obama said. “I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set, and so long as I live I will do what I can to learn from him.” Obama praised Mandela’s personal modesty, reiterating what the man known affectionately as Madiba himself insisted: “I’m not a saint, unless you think that a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying.” Obama added that the South African leader “set an example that all humanity could aspire to.” “For now, let us pause and give thanks for the fact that Nelson Mandela lived,” the President said. “A man who took history in his hands, and bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice.” Many other world leaders mourned the former South African president as well. South African President Jacob Zuma announced Mandela’s death. “Our people have lost a father. Although we knew this day was going to come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss. His tireless struggle for freedom earned him the respect of the world. His humility, passion and humanity, earned him their love,” he said in a televised address. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who was very close with Mandela, said “all of us are living in a better world because of the life of Madiba,” and that he “proved that a big heart is better than a……….

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