News Column

Olympian's Murder Trial Postponed

June 4, 2013
Oscar  Pistoriu

A South African court on Tuesday agreed to postpone the murder trial of Olympic double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius until August 19 to allow prosecutors more time to complete their investigation.

Pistorius has been charged with premeditated murder over the shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model, at his home on February 14.

The prosecution had asked the Pretoria Magistrates Court for more time, and magistrate Daniel Thulare agreed to the postponement after the defence said it had no objection.

A scrum of photographers gathered around Pistorius, known as Blade Runner because of his prosthetic legs, as he arrived for the brief hearing, which lasted only minutes. He wore a dark suit and a blue shirt and appeared calm.

His only words in court were "yes, your honour," when asked if he understood that he would have to appear in court again on the set date.

Relatives of the 26-year-old athlete, including his brother Carl and sister Aimee, were also present in the packed courtroom.

Thulare warned against a "trial by media" in a case that has drawn wide international interest. He also criticized police and prosecutors over information leaked to the media, including photographs of the blood-splattered bathroom where Steenkamp was shot.

While the fact that Pistorius shot his girlfriend in his bathroom is not under dispute, the trial will need to establish whether the South African star is guilty of premeditated murder.

Pistorius says he had mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder.

Prosecutors hope to present an indictment on August 19, a move that would allow the judge to set a date for the formal start of the trial. However, further delays have not been ruled out.

Steenkamp would have turned 30 years old on August 19.

The couple had been dating for just a few months, and Steenkamp's mother June has said the two had experienced heated rows.

"I want to know why he shot her, she must have been so afraid in that toilet," she was quoted as saying.

The athlete's manager, Peet van Zyl, told German weekly Der Spiegel this week: "Oscar sleeps poorly. He eats poorly. There are days when he's okay but other days it's terrible." He also said the sprinter "cries a lot."

Pistorius won numerous medals in the Paralympic Games and became the first amputee runner to compete in the Olympics at the London games last year.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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