'Emotional' Oscar Pistorius indicted for premeditated murder of girlfriend

Aug 19, 2013, 21:47 IST | Agencies

Olympic runner 'Blade runner' Oscar Pistorius was formally indicted in a South African Court on a premeditated murder charge in the Valentine's Day shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. He will go on trial on March 3rd.

Olympian Oscar Pistorius was formally indicted on Monday on charges of murder and illegal possession of ammunition for the shooting death of the double-amputeeā€™s girlfriend, on Valentine's Day this year.

A Pretoria court set March 3 as the trial date for Pistorius, who has said he shot Reeva Steenkamp by mistake, believing she was an intruder in his home.

Prosecutors, who allege he killed her after an argument, submitted a list of more than 100 witnesses for a trial that will be followed around the world.

Pistorius, 26, appeared in court for the indictment, and was seen crying and holding hands with his siblings before proceedings started.

Incidentally, Steenkamp would have celebrated her 30th birthday on Monday.

Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp
Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp. File Pic/AFP

Amid heavy police presence, Pistorius entered the court room packed with his family members and a strong media contingent.

The indictment papers served on Pistorius by the state mean the case will be sent to the High Court in Pretoria, the South African capital, where a judge will preside over the trial and ultimately pronounce the athlete 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, meaning if Pistorius is found guilty, he will be older than 50, at least, when he leaves prison.

There is no death penalty in South Africa.

Police announced this month that they had completed their six-month investigation into Steenkamp's killing at Pistorius' upscale home in Pretoria in the pre-dawn hours of February 14.

A 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.

Pistorius and his defence team will now get a full picture of what evidence the state has against him and how it will try and prove he murdered Steenkamp.

The state is preparing to serve the indictment on him. When the indictment is served, the state is also expected to disclose the docket of evidence to allow the accused to prepare a defence.

In addition to the murder charge, Pistorius reportedly faces two new charges -- the first charge related to Pistorius firing his gun out of the sunroof of a friend's car while driving home from a holiday, and the second charge allegedly related to Pistorius accidentally firing his friend's gun in a Johannesburg restaurant.

The athlete is currently out on 1-million-rand (about $100,000) bail.

Pistorius is known as the Blade Runner because of his carbon fibre prosthetic blades. He was the first double amputee to run in the Olympics. He reached the 400 meters semi-finals at the London 2012 Games.

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