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'Blade Runner' on murder charge

Updated: 2013-02-16 13:42
( China Daily)

'Blade Runner' on murder charge

 Oscar Pistorius breaks down during his court appearance in Pretoria on Friday. Antonie de Ras / Reuters

Model girlfriend shot four times at upmarket home in the capital

South African Olympic star Oscar Pistorius broke down in tears in the dock on Friday as he was charged with the Valentine's Day murder of his model girlfriend.

The 26-year-old superstar Paralympian gold medalist wept as Pretoria magistrate Desmond Nair announced a single charge of killing his lover, blonde covergirl Reeva Steenkamp.

The double amputee, an inspirational hero of last year's London Olympics, sat hunched as the court heard prosecutors would argue the murder was premeditated, a charge that could carry a life sentence.

Twenty-nine-year-old Steenkamp, who was due to appear in a celebrity reality show from this weekend, was shot four times at Pistorius's upmarket Pretoria home in the early hours of Thursday.

She was shot with his 9mm pistol, suffering wounds to the head and hand and died at the scene.

The Beeld newspaper, which first broke the dramatic news of his arrest, said on Friday the shots that killed Steenkamp were fired through a bathroom door but there has been no police confirmation.

Pistorius had been expected to make an application for bail on Friday, but the hearing was delayed until Tuesday to allow the defense more time to prepare and he will remain in police custody until then.

Known worldwide as "Blade Runner" because of his carbon-fiber prostheses, Pistorius has inspired millions by becoming the first double-amputee to compete alongside able-bodied athletes at the Olympics.

His apparent fall from grace has equally captured the attention of millions around the world, with press cramming the courtroom.

"Oscar's Bloody Valentine" was the headline in South Africa's most popular tabloid, the Daily Sun.

Police were called to Pistorius's home at about 4:00 am by neighbors who heard gunshots.

But they poured cold water on initial reports Pistorius had shot Steenkamp, his girlfriend since late last year, after mistaking her for a burglar.

Pistorius was publicly adored in his native South Africa, but questions had been raised about his colorful private life that was replete with glamorous girlfriends, guns and fast cars.

"Obviously we are shocked," his father, Henke, said.

Steenkamp, once an FHM cover girl, was described as "the kindest, sweetest human being; an angel on earth", by Sarit Tomlins of her management agency.

Born in Cape Town, she grew up in Port Elizabeth where she graduated with a degree in law from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.

Police have revealed there had been previous allegations of domestic disputes at Pistorius's home.

"There were always rumors attracted to Oscar Pistorius, but most of them I just put down to him being a celebrity," said Kyle Wood, a 25-year-old fellow resident of the gated community.

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