Oscar Pistorius trial: what is a zombie-stopper? - video

Prosecution shows footage of Pistorius shooting a watermelon with hollow-point 'zombie-stopper' bullets

THE trial of Oscar Pistorius took a strange turn this morning when prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked the defendant if he knew what a "zombie-stopper" was.

Oscar Pistorius described as 'deceitful witness' - live

When Pistorius replied that he did not, Nel sought permission to show a video broadcast by Sky News (see above) which shows the defendant firing bullets he refers to as "zombie-stoppers". The defence objected, describing the line of questioning as an "ambush" and arguing that the video evidence should have been disclosed earlier in the trial. After legal argument, the video was played in court.

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What is a 'zombie stopper'?Nel was referring to footage of Pistorius at a gun range just months before he killed Reeva Steenkamp. The video shows the athlete shooting a watermelon with a pistol. After the fruit explodes Pistorius remarks: "It's not as soft as brains but f*** it is a zombie stopper." That is believed to be a reference to expanding hollow-point bullets. The footage also shows Pistorius firing the silver 9mm pistol he used to shoot Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year.

What are hollow-point bullets?On the night of Steenkamp's death, Pistorius used Black Talon hollow-point bullets, that Gert Saayman, the forensic medicine department at the University of Pretoria, described in court as "an expanding bullet" designed to cause "maximum tissue damage". Martin Hood, an attorney specialising in firearms law says that the bullets are designed to be more effective against living targets. He told eNews Channel Africa: "It was developed to stop in the body. When it makes contact with something it starts expanding and slows down, kind of like a parachute, and is effective in taking down a target."

Are they legal?Hollow point bullets, also known as "expanding bullets" are generally not available to the police and military in South Africa, but are legally available and commonly used by private firearm owners, according to eNews. Forensic investigator Chad Thomas says that hollow-point bullets are outlawed for use in war and are not used by police in most countries, but they are available for private use in South Africa.

More on the Oscar Pistorius trial

Oscar Pistorius described as 'deceitful witness' - live Oscar Pistorius involved in nightclub fight Oscar Pistorius: some defence witnesses refused to testify Oscar Pistorius judge's concern over mysterious missing cordOscar Pistorius: seven key quotes from the murder trial Pistorius cannot dodge jail with murder acquittal alone Six questions for Judge Masipa Family denies athlete took acting lessons Reeva 'had no time to scream' Pistorius told: 'You are getting deeper into trouble' Pistorius describes night he shot Reeva Steenkamp Police release photos of crime scene Five questions Pistorius will need to answer Pistorius used bullets that cause 'maximum wounding'

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