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Pistorius 'shot girlfriend through door'

Prosecution says S African Olympian fired at Reeva Steenkamp behind locked bathroom door, as it contests bail request.
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2013 20:13
Pistorius' girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was said to have been killed with a 9mm pistol owned by the athlete [Reuters]

Prosecutors in South Africa said on Tuesday that Oscar Pistorius, the South African Olympic sprinter, fired four shots and killed "an innocent woman", as they contested his bail request.

The prosecution at Tuesday's bail hearing in Pretoria said Pistorius fired four shots at Reeva Steenkamp, his girlfriend, who was behind a locked bathroom door at his home in a guarded and gated complex in the South African capital. Three of the shots proved fatal. He then broke down the door from the outside and carried the model downstairs.

Gerrie Nel said Pistorius telling his sister that Steenkamp was an intruder was part of the plan, as he had to put on his prosthesis to walk at least seven metres to the bathroom.

"It was all part of the preplanning. Why would a burglar lock himself inside the bathroom?" Nel said.

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

Barry Roux, the defence lawyer, said the shooting was accidental: "We submit it is not even murder. There is no concession this is a murder.''

In arguing that Pistorius should be freed on bail, he said there were no other charges outstanding against the athlete, who last year became the first double-amputee track athlete to run at the Olympics.

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.

Escorted by police, the 26-year-old Olympic and Paralympic sprinter arrived at the back entrance to the courthouse in Pretoria, before 7am (0900 GMT) on Tuesday. His head was covered with a hooded sweater as he left the police station and headed to the courthouse.

Desmond Nair, the court magistrate, asked Pistorius how he felt. The athlete, dressed in a gray suit, blue shirt and tie, appeared grim and solemn as he shrugged and stared straight ahead.

Pistorius' brother Carl and longtime track coach Ampie Louw, the man who convinced Pistorius to take up athletics, were also in the court building, pointing out friends of the family that should be allowed in. A queue of dozens of people waited to go in through the public entrance.

Burial

While Pistorius was in court, Steenkamp's family gathered to mourn the 29-year-old law graduate and model in their hometown of  Port Elizabeth.

Steenkamp's body was being cremated Tuesday at a memorial service in the south-coast port city. The family said mourners had arrived from around the world.

Her coffin, carried by six pallbearers, was draped with a white cloth and covered in white flowers, into the church for the private service.

June Steenkamp, the mother, said the family wants answers.

"Why? Why my little girl? Why did this happen? Why did he do this?" she said in an interview published Monday in The Times newspaper.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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