, PRETORIA, Jun 4 – South Africa’s Paralympic hero Oscar Pistorius is due back in court on Tuesday for the first time since being freed on bail in February over the killing of his model girlfriend.
The Pretoria magistrate’s court could set a date for the trial of the star sprinter who is accused of murdering Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine’s Day at his upmarket home in the South African capital.
Tuesday’s hearing comes just days after a British television channel broadcast leaked crime scene pictures showing the blood-spattered bathroom where Steenkamp was fatally shot by Pistorius multiple times through a locked door.
The court session is expected to be brief, with both the defence and prosecution seeking a postponement as the police try to wrap up their investigation by August.
“The court will be told about the progress of the investigation and the matter is most likely to be postponed for trial,” said lawyer Kenny Oldwage, one of the leading lights in Pistorius’s high-profile defence team.
The prosecution has accused the 26-year-old of premeditated murder, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
But the athlete claims he mistook his girlfriend for an intruder in a “terrible accident” and the defence wants the charge reduced to culpable homicide, which risks up to 15 years behind bars.
Steenkamp, 29, who had been dating Pistorius for just a few months, suffered gunshot wounds to her head, elbow and hip.
The case is bound to be one of the country’s most sensational trials, similar to that of American footballer and actor O.J Simpson who was acquitted of murdering his ex-wife in 1994.
Courts in South Africa, one of the world’s most violent countries, have a huge backlog of rape and murder cases. But some observers have suggested that Pistorius may get preferential treatment and a possible fast-tracking of his case.