Oscar Pistorius 'numb with shock, grief'

2013-02-16 16:45
Oscar Pistorius appears in court. (Stephane de Sakutin, AFP)

Oscar Pistorius appears in court. (Stephane de Sakutin, AFP)

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Pretoria - Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius is "numb with shock, as well as grief" after the shooting death of his model girlfriend at his home, his uncle said on Saturday, as his family "strongly refutes" that he planned to kill her.

Arnold Pistorius spoke with The Associated Press and two other South African journalists from his Pretoria home about his nephew's arrest for the killing of Reeva Steenkamp, who was shot four times on the morning of Valentine's Day.

The statement, the first on camera and directly made in person by Pistorius's family, also came out strongly against prosecutors seeking to upgrade the charge against Pistorius to one of premeditated murder, which carries a sentence of life in prison, and indicates that Pistorius may plead not guilty.

"After consulting with legal representatives, we deeply regret the allegation of premeditated murder," Arnold Pistorius said.

"We have no doubt there is no substance to the allegation and that the State's own case, including its own forensic evidence, strongly refutes any possibility of a premeditated murder."

Grieving

The track star's arrest in the killing of Steenkamp shocked South Africa, where Pistorius was a national hero dubbed the Blade Runner for his high-tech prosthetics and revered for overcoming his disability to compete in the London Games.

Steenkamp was discovered in a pool of blood before dawn on Thursday by police called to Pistorius's upscale home in a gated community in Pretoria. Authorities said she had been shot four times, and a 9mm pistol was recovered at the home.

Pistorius remains held at a police station pending a bail hearing on Tuesday.

Arnold Pistorius did not discuss the circumstances of the shooting, but said that his nephew and Steenkamp had become very close since they started dating in November.

"They had plans together and Oscar was happier in his private life than he had been for a long time," the uncle said.

"We are all grieving for Reeva, her family and her friends," AFP quoted him as saying.

"As a family we are trying to be strong and supportive to Oscar as any close family would be in these dreadful circumstances."

Visit News24's Oscar Pistorius Special Report.

- AP
Read more on:    reeva steenkamp  |  oscar pistorius
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