JOHANNESBURG — South African prosecutors pressing a murder charge against former Olympian Oscar Pistorius secured a meeting Thursday with Apple officials in the United States over accessing potentially crucial evidence on the double-amputee athlete’s locked iPhone, they said.
Pistorius claimed he forgot the password for the cellphone, one of a number found at his upscale villa after he shot girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Feb. 14, 2013.
Investigators have been seeking help from Apple through the FBI. since last year to get access to the phone, a spokesman for South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority said. Investigators from South Africa would now meet with Apple officials at the tech giant’s headquarters in California, spokesman Nathi Mncube said.
Pistorius’ trial starts Monday, giving both prosecutors and Pistorius’ defense team just four days to analyze any information on the iPhone. Prosecutors would be obliged to also give any evidence they find to Pistorius’ lawyers.
“It can only add on the evidence we already have,” Mncube said in an interview with TV station eNCA. “It cannot be prejudicial to our case. The people concerned, should the evidence be favorable to us, are the defense. Then we have a responsibility to make it available to them as soon as we have it so they can also prepare for the trial.”
Mncube also confirmed the meeting and the reason behind it separately to The Associated Press after his telephone interview with eNCA.
The prosecution maintains that Pistorius had a fight with Steenkamp before killing her, a cornerstone of its case, and information on the Olympian’s phone may shed light on events before the pre-dawn shooting last Valentine’s Day. Pistorius says he shot the model and reality TV star after mistaking her for a dangerous intruder.