South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius has denied an allegation he received acting coaching ahead of his trial for the murder of girlfriend Reeve Steenkamp.
The accusation came in an open letter by columnist Jani Allan. “I have it from a reliable source that you are taking acting lessons for your days in court,” she wrote. “Your coach has an impossible task.”
A statement released by a spokesperson for the Pistorius family, Anneliese Burgess, says the “suggestion that Mr. Pistorius ‘took acting lessons’ is totally devoid of any truth”. The media manager goes on to deny any lessons or “any form of emotional coaching”, in the statement published on the athlete’s website.
Pistorius has repeatedly broken down on the witness stand while giving his account of the events of February 14, 2013, when he shot Steenkamp. Pistorius does not deny shooting his girlfriend but claims he thought she was an intruder. The prosecution allege she was shot, through the locked bathroom door, after an argument between the couple.
Pistorius’s vomiting and loud crying have often disrupted proceedings, requiring a break while the accused regained his composure.
Some, including Allen, have questioned his sincerity. “Oscar, you are the latest in a long line of faux heroes. Like so many who preceded you, you have betrayed your people and disappointed your fans,” she wrote.
The family responded: “This type of comment makes a mockery of the enormous human tragedy involving the Steenkamp family and our client and his family.”
“Ms Allen has never met Oscar Pistorius and any knowledge she professes to have of our client can only be described as fictitious,” they say.