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An attendee holds the funeral programme of the late South African model Reeva Steenkamp at the crematorium/AFP

Africa

Sobbing Pistorius accused of ‘premeditated’ girlfriend murder

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An attendee holds the funeral programme of the late South African model Reeva Steenkamp at the crematorium/AFP

An attendee holds the funeral programme of the late South African model Reeva Steenkamp at the crematorium/AFP

PRETORIA, Feb 19, 2013 (AFP) – South African sporting hero Oscar Pistorius broke down in court Tuesday as he was accused of shooting his model girlfriend through a locked bathroom door in what prosecutors said was a “premeditated” Valentine’s Day murder.

The double-amputee Olympian and Paralympian “Blade Runner” is seeking bail at the Pretoria court hearing, which revealed startlingly different accounts from the prosecution and defence about how his covergirl law graduate lover Reeva Steenkamp was killed.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said Pistorius armed himself, put on his prostheses, walked seven metres and fired four shots through a locked bathroom door at his luxury Pretoria home, hitting a terrified Steenkamp three times and fatally wounding her.

“She could go nowhere,” he said, adding that Pistorius had “shot and killed unarmed innocent woman”.

He said Steenkamp, 29, had arrived at Pistorius’s home on Wednesday evening with an overnight bag, seeking to counter claims that the athlete had mistaken her for an intruder.

As the court hearing was under way in the South African capital, Steenkamp was being laid to rest at a private ceremony in her hometown of Port Elizabeth.

Pistorius, wearing a black suit, blue shirt and grey tie for his second court hearing since the February 14 shooting, broke down in sobs every time Steenkamp’s name was mentioned.

The 26-year-old — who became an inspiration to millions when he became the first double amputee to run against able-bodied athletes at last year’s Olympics — spoke only to confirm he had no previous convictions.

“Yes, your worship,” he said in a shaking voice. Magistrate Desmond Nair asked Pistorius to speak up and he repeated the phrase louder.

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Pistorius’s heavyweight legal team rejected claims that the killing was premeditated.

“I will put before court case after case where husbands through accident shot wives… believing it was an intruder,” said Roux. “Is that now preplanned murder?”

“We submit it’s not even a murder. There’s no concession that it’s murder,” said lawyer Barry Roux.

Roux challenged the claim that Pistorius put on his prostheses before shooting and argued the runner believed the person in the bathroom to be an intruder.

“I will put before court case after case where husbands through accident shot wives… believing it was an intruder,” said Roux. “Is that now preplanned murder?”

Roux also claimed Pistorius had broken down the door to help Steenkamp.

Defence lawyers are expected to argue that Pistorius should be freed pending trial but the state has said it would oppose bail.

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