A South African judge has ruled the murder trial of Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius can be televised, giving millions around the world direct access to one of the most sensational celebrity trials since OJ Simpson's.

Pistorius, 27, has admitted shooting his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, at his Pretoria home on Valentine's Day last year but has said it was a tragic accident in which he had mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder.

If convicted of murder, he faces life in prison. The trial is due to start on Monday.

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In a televised ruling in a Pretoria high court, Judge Dustan Mlambo said it was vital impoverished South Africans who feel ill-treated by the justice system be given a first-hand look at the trial.

He said: "The justice system is still perceived as treating the rich and famous with kid gloves whilst being harsh on the poor and the vulnerable.

"Enabling a larger South African society to be able to follow first-hand criminal proceedings which involve a celebrity, so to speak, will go a long way into dispelling these negative and unfounded perceptions."

Judge Mlambo attached several conditions, including provisos no recording be allowed during breaks and no confidential communication between parties involved in the trial be recorded.

He also said the cameras could not take "extreme close-ups" nor record witnesses who didn't give consent.