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[Published: Friday February 15 2013]

Paralympic star to face 'premeditated murder' charge

Pretoria, 15 Feb - (ANA) - South African Olympic and Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius wept in court today as prosecutors said they would pursue a "premeditated murder" charge over the death of his girlfriend. Model Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead at his home near Pretoria yesterday. Mr Pistorius held his head in his hands and broke down in tears as the charge was read out in the magistrates' court. An application for bail was postponed till next Tuesday and Mr Pistorius, 26, will remain in police custody. Family members reached forward to touch his shoulder as he stood and left the courtroom in Pretoria. Dozens of reporters were also in court, where chief magistrate Desmond Nair was presiding. Correspondents say the defendant cut a lonely figure, with his head forward and breathing heavily through tears. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel argued for a "premeditated murder" charge. Mr Pistorius slumped forward at the mention of the words. Media access was discussed and the magistrate ruled that there should be no live recording for the bail hearings. Mr Pistorius's team had argued against such coverage and cited his "extremely traumatised state of mind". Both prosecution and defence agreed Mr Pistorius could remain in custody at a police station and not in prison. Members of Mr Pistorius's family, including sister Aimee, brother Carl and father Henke, were in the courtroom. Mr Pistorius had earlier arrived at court in the back of a police vehicle, hiding his face with a jacket and notebook. Forensic experts are expected to continue examining the house in the upmarket Silver Woods gated community on the outskirts of South Africa's administrative capital where Ms Steenkamp, 29, died. Correspondents say the athlete's arrest has stunned the country where he is considered a national hero. He made history in London last year when he became the first double-amputee track athlete to compete in the Olympic Games. He is known as the "blade runner" because of the carbon fibre prosthetic blades he races in. He was born without a fibula in both legs and had his legs amputated below the knee before his first birthday. Police were called to his home in the early hours of yesterday. They found paramedics treating a 29-year-old woman with four gunshot wounds to the head and upper body. She died at the scene, and officers recovered a 9mm pistol. Mr Pistorius and Ms Steenkamp had reportedly been dating since November. South Africa has one of the highest rates of crime in the world and many residents keep weapons to protect themselves against intruders. But gun ownership is strictly regulated and it is not easy to obtain a licence. (ANA)
FA/ANA/15 February 2013------------


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