News / Africa

Pistorius Bail Hearing Enters Final Arguments

Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius stands during his bail hearing at the magistrate court in Pretoria, South Africa, February 21, 2013
Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius stands during his bail hearing at the magistrate court in Pretoria, South Africa, February 21, 2013
VOA News
The defense team for South African runner Oscar Pistorius is making final arguments that he should be freed on bail.

Attorney Barry Roux reiterated the defense case that the shooting by Pistorius of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, was an accident, not premeditated murder.  He also said investigators have a weak case against his client.

“Your worship, and I say this with great deference, but the poor quality of the evidence of the investigating officer Botha further exposed an endeavor on the part of the state to avoid disastrous shortcomings in the state’s case,” said Roux.

The judge overseeing the case briefly adjourned Thursday's hearing because of an unspecified threat, but proceedings resumed after 10 minutes.

The magistrate said earlier this week that he could not rule out premeditation in the case, but said the charge could be downgraded.  Premeditated murder carries a possible life sentence in prison.

Before the defense began its final arguments, the case took a surprise turn with revelations about the lead investigator.  Authorities said Detective Hilton Botha has been charged with seven counts of attempted murder in connection with allegedly firing at a vehicle he was trying to stop.

The charges related to the 2011 incident had been provisionally withdrawn, but police say they have been reinstated.

Related - Lead Investigator in Pistorius Case Facing Attempted Murder Charges

Botha was asked to return to the witness stand Thursday, but was not asked about his own case.

Botha testified Wednesday that Pistorius' account of how he killed Reeva Steenkamp is consistent with what police found at the crime scene.

Pistorius insists he thought he was shooting at a burglar and had no intention of killing Steenkamp at his home last week.  Prosecutors say the nighttime shooting through a bathroom door was premeditated murder.

Botha agreed with Roux there were no signs of an assault on Steenkamp's body and no signs she defended herself from an assault.

Roux also argued with Botha's statement that the shots through the door were fired downward, suggesting Pistorius, known as the "blade runner" for his artificial legs, put the legs on before heading to the door.  

Pistorius said in an affidavit Tuesday that he was moving around on his stumps.

Pistorius is regarded as a sports hero and national icon in South Africa.  He made history in August when he became the first double amputee to run at the Olympics.  

Since the shooting, major sponsors Oakley and Nike have both suspended their contracts with Pistorius.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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Comments
     
by: Anonymous from: John
February 21, 2013 10:06 AM
How can the defense attorney say it was an accident.
What Detective Training has he had to arrive at this statement.
I hope the Court turns the bail application down and remands Oscar straight to facility until the the time for his trial. Maybe
Oscar should take a lie detector test? to verify his statement.

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