South African athlete Oscar Pistorius said yesterday he did not intend to kill his girlfriend after being accused of shooting her through a locked bathroom door in what prosecutors claim was “premeditated” murder.
“I had no intention to kill my girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp,” the 26-year-old said in an affidavit read out at a court hearing here, his first public comments since the February 14 killing. Pistorius, a double amputee also known as ‘Blade Runner’, said he fired at the bathroom door where the 29-year-old was hiding as he was “filled with horrible fear” that someone had sneaked into his posh home through an open window.
“I fired shots at the door and shouted at the toilet. We were deeply in love and couldn’t be more happy,” he said in the affidavit. “
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the court that Pistorius had armed himself, put on his prosthetic legs, walked seven metres and fired four shots through the locked bathroom door, hitting Steenkamp thrice, fatally wounding her.
Nel said: “She could go nowhere. He shot, killed an unarmed innocent woman.”
He said law graduate and model Steenkamp arrived at Pistorius’ home on Wednesday with an overnight bag, countering claims that he had mistaken her for an intruder.
Pistorius, who broke down in sobs at yesterday’s hearing when Steenkamp’s name was mentioned, became an inspiration to millions when he became the first double amputee to run against able-bodied athletes at last year’s Olympics. But his career has been put on hold since the shooting, forcing him to cancel races in Australia, Brazil, Britain and the United States between March and May.
Pistorius’ legal team rejected claims that the killing was premeditated. “We submit it’s not even a murder. There’s no concession that it’s murder,” said lawyer Barry Roux. “I will put before court case after case where husbands through accident shot wives believing it was an intruder,” added Roux. “Is that preplanned murder?”
Magistrate Desmond Nair adjourned the hearing until the next day and said he could not rule out that there was some planning involved in the killing, which may be considered as a premeditated murder for the purposes of bail.
As the court hearing was under way here, Steenkamp was being laid to rest at a crematorium in her hometown of Port Elizabeth.
Sponsors break ties with Pistorius
French fashion house Thierry Mugler became the latest high-profile sponsor to distance itself from Oscar Pistorius fighting murder charges. A company spokesperson told Press Association Sport: “Out of respect and sympathy to the families involved in this tragic case, we have has removed all campaigns featuring Oscar Pistorius.”
Two other major sponsors, Oakley and Nike, also distanced themselves from the athlete. Oakley suspended its contract with Pistorius while Nike said it has no plans to use him in future campaigns.