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Judge bans Twitter in Pistorius trial

March 10, 2014 • Online, Southern Africa, Top Stories

High Court judge Thokozile Masipa on Monday afternoon banned the use of Twitter in disseminating evidence presented by pathologist Gert Saayman in the murder trial of Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius.

Oscar Pistorius during his bail hearing (image: file)

Oscar Pistorius during his bail hearing (image: file)

“There shall be no live broadcast now that applies to Twitter,” Masipa declared on the request of Saayman. The pathologist objected to details of his testimony being broadcast and/or Tweeted to the world from the court room in Pretoria, as he said that he was bound by ethical rules and the possibility of statutory limits to his conduct.

“Let me apologise for the inconvenience I may have caused. I think that the very personal nature of findings that are made at an autopsy examination as well as the very graphic details have the potential to compromise the dignity of the deceased and I believe it is our duty to preserve the dignity of the deceased,” he said.

In his explanation, he pointed out that the content of the report might not be suitable for all viewers. “I think it goes against the good morals of society to make information of this nature available to vulnerable and unsuspecting people such as children if they are not timeously informed.”

But law expert Pierre de Vos told SAPA that the order might not hold any weight. “It sounds unenforceable. I wasn’t there to hear her [the judge's] exact words, but in other court cases, people and journalists use Twitter, so I don’t know why they’re doing this in this case, what makes this case so special.”

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor

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