Pistorius family disputes murder claim - statement

2013-02-15 15:18
Oscar Pistorius leaves the Pretoria Magistrate's Court after appearing in connection with the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. (Stephane de Sakutin, AFP)

Oscar Pistorius leaves the Pretoria Magistrate's Court after appearing in connection with the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. (Stephane de Sakutin, AFP)

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Cape Town - The family and management company of detained paralympian Oscar Pistorius have disputed the murder allegation against him in the "strongest terms", according to a statement released on Friday.

"Oscar Pistorius has appeared in court here in Pretoria this morning [on Friday] formally charged with the murder of Reeva Steenkamp. The alleged murder is disputed in the strongest terms," the statement from the family and In-Site Athlete Management said.

"These are now live and active legal proceedings which must be allowed to take their course through the process of proper investigation by the police, evidence-gathering and through the local South African judicial system," it said.

Pistorius will spend the weekend in police cells after he was formally charged with Steenkamp's murder.

He was arrested on Thursday after Steenkamp, a model and law graduate and participant in the Tropika Island of Treasure television show, was shot dead in his home.

Earlier, the celebrity athlete arrived at the Pretoria Magistrate's Court in the back seat of a double-cab police bakkie after spending the night in jail, Sapa reported.

He held a jacket over his head and a book in front of his face as cameramen surged towards the vehicle. The news of his arrest and Steenkamp's murder made local and international news.

With his father Henke and sister Aimee in the front row of the court. Pistorius walked into the packed room wearing a dark suit. He stood quietly in the dock, his hands at his side.

But after Magistrate Desmond Nair greeted him he put his hands to his mouth and wept. Nair asked him to be calm and he sat down.

The charge of murder was read into the court record.

Nair dealt briefly with an application to broadcast proceedings live.

With jaws clenched and his cheek twitching, Pistorius listened as his lawyer advocate Barry Roux said: "It can never be in the interests of justice... it will seriously prejudice the accused."

Nair ruled against live broadcasts of proceedings, allowing only audio recordings of argument and judgment and photographs before and after proceedings.

Pre-meditated murder

Nair moved to the bail application and Roux asked that it be set down for next week. This would allow the defence to prepare for forensic tests to support their argument that it was a "Section five" allegation.

In terms of Section five of the Criminal Procedure Act, which deals with "serious" offences, an accused may only be granted bail if he or she produces evidence to satisfy the court that the interests of justice permit the release.

Section six on the other hand, deals with "extremely serious" crime and requires exceptional circumstances for bail to be granted.

State prosecutor Gerrie Nel, who also prosecuted former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi, supported the postponement, also for further tests and information gathering.

Nair asked: "Is the State's argument pre-meditated murder?"

"Yes," said Nel.

The postponement was granted to Tuesday 19 February. Pistorius would remain in the Brooklyn police station's cells.

Pistorius was still teary-eyed as he was led away.

Visit News24's Oscar Pistorius Special Report.

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