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S Africa's Pistorius indicted for murder

Paralympic athlete faces charges of killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp seven months ago.

Last Modified: 19 Aug 2013 11:33
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Oscar Pistorius, the 26-year-old double-amputee Olympian, is to face trial in March next year after being indicted on charge of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius, 26, was handed a copy of the indictment and the court adjourned on Monday in Pretoria.

"Mr Pistorius, the matter is then transferred to the High Court and is scheduled to start on the 3rd of March 2014 and will run until the 20th of March 2014," Desmond Nair, the magistrate, said.

The sprint star walked into the court on Monday wearing a black suit and light blue shirt, and started praying with his sister Aimee and brother Carl, holding hands with them and crying.

The indictment papers are expected to include a list of witnesses to be called by the prosecution and detail some of the evidence police investigators have gathered in the six months since Pistorius shot Steenkamp in a bathroom in his home on Valentine's Day.

The statement, from the office of South Africa's national police commissioner, said detectives, forensic experts, ballistics experts, psychologists and technology experts all worked on the case and are confident that they have the evidence to convict Pistorius.

Telling evidence

The most telling evidence may be in records on mobile hones found at Pistorius' home and through examination of the toilet cubicle door through which Pistorius shot four bullets, hitting Steenkamp three times and killing her.

The angle or trajectory of the bullets could show if Pistorius was standing on his stumps when he shot, as he says, or if he was on his prosthetics, as the prosecution maintains.

Prosecutors told the Associated Press news agency it is possible that additional charges could be added to the indictment.

South African media reports that Pistorius would face two other charges relating to recklessly discharging a firearm in a public place in two separate incidents.

These incidents would seemingly show the prosecution's attempt to paint Pistorius as trigger-happy at his trial.

A judge of the high court will preside over the trial and ultimately pronounce paralympic sprinter innocent or guilty. South Africa does not have trial by jury.

The mandatory sentence for someone convicted of premeditated murder is life with a minimum of 25 years in prison. There is no death penalty in South Africa.

Pistorius denies he committed murder and says he shot Steenkamp by mistake thinking she was a dangerous intruder.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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