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Africa

Paralympic star Pistorius charged with murder

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-02-15

South African Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius has been charged with murder after his 30-year-old model girlfriend was found shot dead at his home in Pretoria on Thursday.

South African Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius was charged with murder on Thursday after his 30-year-old girlfriend was found shot dead at his home in Pretoria.

South African police said on Thursday that they have charged a 26-year-old man with the murder Pistorius’s girlfriend. Police did not directly name Pistorius as the suspect in accordance with South African law, but did say that he and the victim, Reeva Steenkamp, were the only people in the house at the time of the shooting.

After receiving a call about the shooting at around 3am, police arrived at the athlete’s home where they found a 9mm pistol. Steenkamp had been shot four times and died at the scene.

“There is no other suspect involved,” police spokesperson Brigadier Denise Beukes said, adding that there had been "previous incidents'' of a "domestic nature" at Pistorius' home.

Police to oppose bail

Beukes also said that the South African Police Service would oppose bail if the suspect requested it.

South African media have speculated that Pistorius mistakenly opened fire on his girlfriend, believing she was an intruder. South Africa has some of the world's highest rates of violent crime, and many home owners have weapons to defend themselves against intruders, although Pistorius' complex is surrounded by a three meter high wall and electric fence.

Neighbours expressed shock at the arrest of a “good guy”.

The world famous athlete was previously arrested in 2009 for assault after slamming a door on a woman and spent a night in police custody. Family and friends said it was just an accident and the charges were later dropped.

‘Blade Runner’

Pistorius, who races wearing carbon fiber prosthetic blades after he was born without a fibula in both legs, was the first double amputee to run in the Olympics.

Nicknamed “Blade Runner,” Pistorius famously reached the 400m semi-finals at the London 2012 Olympics. At the Paralympics he won silver in the T44 200m, gold in the 4x100 relay and gold in the T44 400m. In 2008 he won a legal battle for the right to compete in able-bodied competitions.

Steenkamp was a top South African model, television star and law graduate, and had been dating Pistorius for a year. One of her last Twitter postings indicated that she was looking forward to spending Valentine's Day with him. "What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow???" she posted.

Pistorius is due to appear in a Pretoria court on Friday.

Date created : 2013-02-14

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