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New York Times

Oscar Pistorius, the South African athlete accused of murdering his girlfriend, faced new questions Thursday from a dogged prosecutor intent on depicting him as a narcissistic bully who routinely berated her and recklessly carried a loaded gun everywhere he went.

"It's all about I. It's all about Mr. Pistorius," the pugnacious state prosecutor, Gerrie Nel, repeatedly told the judge and observers in the courtroom in Pretoria, South Africa. Referring to Pistorius' girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, he added, "Reeva believed you treated her very badly."

The televised trial has offered two starkly competing narratives of the world's most famous disabled athlete. In one, Pistorius, 27, a double-amputee Paralympian, is a loving boyfriend who, vulnerable without his prosthetic legs, accidentally shot Steenkamp, 29, from outside a locked bathroom door in his Pretoria home as he tried to fend off what he thought were intruders. In the other, he is a temperamental and gun-loving hothead who killed Steenkamp in a violent rage after an argument, and then dissembled to cover his tracks.

Nel sought to puncture Pistorius' testimony that his relationship with Steenkamp, a law school graduate and reality television star, was loving.

Nel read out text messages, including an exchange in which Pistorius mocked Steenkamp for speaking in "annoying" accents. In one episode, he told her to stop chewing gum in public. In another, Nel said, Steenkamp objected to Pistorius' playing a rap song whose lyrics include an expletive and the words "Don't kill my vibe."

He asked Pistorius why a review of text messages had not yielded a single exchange of "I love you" between them. "I never got the opportunity to tell Reeva that I loved her," Pistorius replied wistfully.

Pistorius has denied a charge of premeditated murder, which carries a minimum jail term of 25 years. He says he shot Steenkamp by mistake.

Pistorius, appearing far more composed than during previous testimony, stood by his version of the night's events: He had assumed Steenkamp was still in bed when he drew his gun.

At one point during his testimony, Nel snickered. That prompted a rare interjection from Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa, who addressed the prosecutor and the gallery but whose comments could be heard far and wide, as the trial has become a global spectacle.

"You possibly think this is entertainment," the judge said. "It is not."