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Pistorius defence team closes case

OSCAR Pistorius's lawyers have finished their defence of the Olympic and Paralympic track star, bringing the dramatic murder trial of one of the world's best-known athletes closer to conclusion.

Judge Thokozile Masipa adjourned the court until August 7 to allow the legal teams to prepare closing arguments, due to take a day each. She will then begin her deliberations, extending a trial that has already dragged on over four months.

The case has captivated global audiences and had round-the-clock coverage in Pistorius's native South Africa, making it arguably the most-watched celebrity murder trial since US athlete OJ Simpson was cleared of murdering his wife in 1995.

Pistorius, who had his lower legs amputated as a baby, faces life in prison if he is found guilty of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, whom he shot dead at his luxury Pretoria home on Valentine's Day last year.

The 27-year-old athlete, known as Blade Runner because of the carbon-fibre prosthetic legs he uses, says he killed Ms Steenkamp after mistaking her for an intruder hiding in the toilet next to his bedroom.

The state alleges he fired four rounds from a 9mm pistol in a fit of rage after an argument, killing the 29-year-old law graduate and model as she cowered behind the locked toilet door.

The killing has shattered the image of Pistorius as an embodiment of triumph over adversity for both his Paralympic victories and competition against able-bodied athletes at the 2012 London Olympics.

The track star broke down frequently during the trial, often sobbing and vomiting into a bucket.

The emotional displays were in marked contrast to his composed and confident demeanour as he re-enacted the shooting in a leaked video aired on Australian television on Sunday.

After the broadcast of the film, which Pistorius's lawyers said was for trial preparation only and had been "obtained illegally" by Australia's Channel 7, Judge Masipa banned any publication of the closing arguments before they are read in court.

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