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March 05, 2014

Witness: Pistorius Fired Gun in Restaurant

by VOA News

A witness in the murder trial of South African Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius says the athlete fired a gun in a restaurant and then asked another person to take the blame.

Pistorius's friend, boxer Kevin Lerena, testified Wednesday the restaurant incident occurred in Johannesburg in January 2013, one month before the shooting death of Pistorius' girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

The boxer says he and Pistorius were dining with two other friends when one of them, Darren Fresco, passed his gun to Pistorius under the table.

Lerena says then that a shot went off grazing his foot, adding that Pistorius apologized profusely. He says Pistorius then asked Fresco to take the blame for the gunshot.

Pistorius has admitted to shooting Steenkamp, but said he mistakenly believed he was firing at an intruder. Prosecutors say Pistorius killed Steenkamp after an argument.

On Monday, Pistorius pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, recklessly discharging a firearm and illegally possessing ammunition.

If convicted of premeditated murder, he faces a life sentence.

Pistorius is known as the "Blade Runner" for his carbon-fiber prosthetic legs. In 2012, he became the first double-amputee to compete in the Olympics.

Some information for this report comes from AP, AFP and Reuters.