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'Blade Runner' Athlete Denies Murder Charges

Athlete Oscar Pistorius weeps in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Feb 15, 2013, at his bail hearing in the murder case of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

South African Olympic track runner Oscar Pistorius wept in court Friday as prosecutors said they will pursue a premeditated murder charge against him in the killing of his girlfriend.

A statement from Pistorius's family and managers says the track star disputes the allegation in the "strongest terms." It also says the double amputee offered his condolences to the family of Reeva Steenkamp.

The statement was issued from London on Friday hours after Pistorius broke down in tears during his court appearance. A VOA reporter who attended the hearing says the 26-year-old athlete wept silently with his head in his hands as proceedings began. Pistorius said nothing during the 40-minute hearing.

Prosecutors accuse Pistorius of killing his girlfriend, a model and law school graduate, at his home in Pretoria on Valentine's Day. Investigators say Steenkamp, who was around 30 years of age, was shot four times by a 9-millimeter pistol registered to Pistorius.

Pistorius returned Friday to police custody where he will remain until a bail hearing on Tuesday.

The athlete is regarded as a sports hero and national icon in South Africa. He made history last August when he became the first double amputee to run at the Olympics. He is known as the "blade runner" for competing on high-tech artificial legs.

Pistorius won multiple gold medals at the international Paralympics and ran for South Africa in the 400 meters at the London Olympics last year.

Initial reports suggested Pistorius may have shot Steenkamp after mistaking her for an intruder. But police say neighbors reported hearing yelling and shouting at the home at the time of the shooting. Police also say there have been previous incidents of a "domestic nature" at the heavily guarded facility.

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