Pistorius charged with murder, sobs in court
By David Dolan, ReutersPRETORIA, South Africa--South African “'Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee who became one of the biggest names in world athletics, broke down in tears on Friday after being formally charged in a Pretoria court with the murder of his girlfriend.
February 16, 2013, 12:04 am TWN
Dressed in a dark suit, the 26-year-old Olympic and Paralympic superstar stood with head bowed in front of magistrate Desmond Nair to hear the charge of one count of murder read out.
He then started sobbing, covering his face with his hands.
Pistorius was formally charged at Pretoria Magistrate's Court with one count of murder after his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, a model and budding reality TV show participant, was shot multiple times and killed at Pistorius' upmarket home in the predawn hours of Thursday.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said Friday in court it was premeditated murder, indicating the prosecution would file that more serious charge, upgraded from murder.
Prosecutors said Friday that they would argue the history-making Olympic athlete -- the first amputee to run at the games -- had planned Steenkamp's killing. It sent South Africans reeling further as their national hero and a global role model for people in overcoming adversity was set to face accusations that he intentionally gunned down his girlfriend.
The downfall of the track superstar has stunned a nation that reveres “the fastest man on no legs” as a hero who triumphed over adversity to compete with able-bodied athletes at the highest levels of sport.
His girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, 30, was found shot dead in his plush Pretoria home in the early hours of Thursday, police said. The Afrikaans-language Beeld newspaper said she had been hit four times, in the head, chest, pelvis and hand.
“The security guards found Pistorius by Steenkamp's body in the bathroom,” the paper said on its website, citing a neighbor. “The door had bullet holes right through it.”
Pistorius was held overnight in a Pretoria police station. On Friday morning, he was led, flanked by family members and officers, to a police station wagon to be taken to the capital's central magistrate's court.
The hearing was delayed for two hours as his defense lawyers objected to the scrum of local and international reporters packed into the courtroom.
A 9 mm pistol was recovered from Pistorius's two-story house in the middle of a heavily guarded gated complex in the northern outskirts of the South African capital.