Pistorius back in court for murder bail hearing

Mon Feb 18, 2013 6:53pm EST
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By Ed Cropley

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - "Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorius, the South African double amputee who became one of the biggest names in world athletics, is due in court for a second time on Tuesday to apply for bail after being charged with murdering his girlfriend.

The arrest of the 26-year-old Olympic and Paralympic sprinter has stunned millions across the world who held him up as a hero for triumphing over adversity to compete with able-bodied athletes at the highest level of sport.

His girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, was found shot dead in his Pretoria home in the early hours of Thursday, with initial reports suggesting Pistorius may have mistaken her for an intruder.

However, police have made clear that Steenkamp, who will be buried on Tuesday, was killed by more than one gunshot, that Pistorius was the only suspect and that neighbors had heard earlier disturbances.

They said a 9mm pistol was recovered at the house, where there was no sign of a break in.

Since the arrest, South African newspapers have published lurid, unconfirmed details of the killing. If true, they are likely to undermine any potential argument of self-defense, experts say.

His agent said Pistorius, who faces life in prison if found guilty, disputes the murder charge "in the strongest possible terms".

Prosecutors are expected to oppose any request for bail at Tuesday's hearing, suggesting they will have to present the court the state's full version of the shooting as laid out in the charge sheet.   Continued...

South African 'Blade Runner' Oscar Pistorius (C) is escorted by police during his court appearance in Pretoria February 15, 2013. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko