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Family firmly behind Oscar

Pretoria: A spokeswoman for Oscar Pistorius said on Tuesday that suggestions that the Paralympian had taken acting lessons ahead of his emotional murder trial testimony were “totally devoid of any truth”.

“We deny that our client has taken any ‘acting lessons’ or any form of emotional coaching,” Anneliese Burgess, media manager for the Pistorius family, said in a statement on his website.

Pistorius broke down repeatedly in the witness box as he gave his version of the fatal shooting that left his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp dead on Valentine’s Day last year. His vomiting and loud crying have often disrupted proceedings, and some have questioned his sincerity.

Well-known South African columnist Jani Allan claimed he had been coached for his emotional performance. “I have it from a reliable source that you are taking acting lessons for your days in court. Your coach has an impossible task,” she wrote in an open letter posted on her website last week.

“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 added. But the Pistorius family described her allegations as “fictitious”, saying any “suggestion that Pistorius ‘took acting classes’ is totally devoid of any truth”.

Burgess said in the statement: “This type of comment makes a mockery of the enormous human tragedy involving the Steenkamp family and our client and his family.”

Pistorius said he fired four shots at Steenkamp through a locked toilet door, mistaking her for an intruder. Prosecutors have argued that the shooting came after a fight between the couple.