20 February 2013

South Africa: Pistorius Bail Application Continues

Photo: BackpagePix
Oscar Pistorius made history when he joined the men's 400m heats as the first amputee to take part in an Olympics track event.

Pretoria — Murder-accused athlete Oscar Pistorius had last-minute consultations with his legal team to prepare for the next phase of his bail application at the Pretoria Magistrate's Court on Wednesday morning.

He is charged with shooting dead his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine's Day.

He arrived earlier in a police car from cells at the Brooklyn police station, a blue towel covering his head.

In addition to the bail application, his lawyers would also have to make a new application to keep him at the police holding cells instead of a prison, with last week's order to that effect expiring on Wednesday.

His family was already inside the court, his brother Carl, a likeness of the international athlete, and his sister Aimee among them.

On Tuesday, Carl Pistorius held his hands on his weeping brother's back as his lawyer, advocate Barry Roux, read out an affidavit on the events of the night of February 13 and the early hours of February 14.

At the same time, more than 1100 kilometres away, in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, Steenkamp's family were gathered for a private funeral.

Pistorius told how Reeva had slept over and how he had shot through a toilet door, thinking there was an intruder in the house at the Silver Wood security estate.

He then realised that Steenkamp had been in the toilet.

He denied the allegation that he had murdered her or that it was premeditated, as the State alleged.

"I deny the aforesaid [murder] allegation in the strongest terms," Pistorius said.

After Magistrate Desmond Nair declared the shooting a Schedule Six offence in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act, it will be up to Pistorius' legal team to show exceptional circumstance why he should be released on bail.

On Tuesday State prosecutor Gerrie Nel said there was no possible information to support Pistorius' version that he mistook Steenkamp for a burglar.

Pistorius, a double amputee, had put on his prosthetic legs and fired four shots -- three hitting Steenkamp.

Nel questioned why a burglar would lock himself in a bathroom and said: "We say this in itself constitutes premeditated murder of a burglar."

An extra court room was being set up with live streaming to accommodate the large crowd of people wanting to watch the proceedings.

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