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Top South African detective takes over Pistorius case

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-02-22

South Africa's highest-ranking detective was assigned on Thursday to the Oscar Pistorius Valentine’s Day shooting case after it emerged the original investigator was facing murder charges of his own.

South Africa’s police chief appointed its top detective as the new lead investigator in the Oscar Pistorius murder case on Thursday.

The decision came after it emerged that the initial investigator, Hilton Botha, was facing attempted murder charges.

National Commissioner Riah Phiyega said Lt. Gen. Vinesh Moonoo would take over the investigation, saying the Pistorius case would “receive attention at the national level” and that Moonoo would “gather a team of highly skilled and experience detectives.”

Botha’s future in charge of the investigation into world-famous athlete Pistorius came into doubt after charges of attempted murder were reinstated against him in relation to a 2011 shooting incident, when he and two other police officers allegedly fired shots at a minibus.

Police blunders

On Wednesday, the prosecution case against Pistorius began to unravel with revelations of a series of police blunders and Botha’s admission that authorities had no evidence to challenge the double-amputee Olympic athlete’s claim he killed his girlfriend accidentally.

Pistorius faces a charge of premeditated murder, but says he shot girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp accidentally with a licensed firearm after thinking she was an intruder in his house.

In his often confused testimony, Botha, who was described as a 24-year police veteran with 16 years service as a detective, conceded that police had left a 9 mm slug from the barrage that killed Steenkamp inside a toilet at the scene.

Police also lost track of illegal ammunition found inside the house, Botha said, and the detective himself walked through the crime scene without wearing protective shoe covers, potentially contaminating the area.

Botha also claimed in court that police found boxes of testosterone and needles in multiple Paralympic champion Pistorius’ bedroom following the Valentine’s Day shooting last week, but then said later he wasn’t sure what the exact name of the substance was.

The prosecution conceded laboratory tests on the substance weren’t yet completed and so it was unclear what it was.

Girlfriend shot ‘by mistake’

Pistorius’ defence lawyer Barry Roux asserted that authorities were taking “every piece of evidence to try to extract the most possibly negative connotation and present it to the court.”

The case, which is still only in a bail hearing, has riveted much of the world with its dramatic developments as Pistorius, the man known as the Blade Runner for his famous carbon-fibre running prostheses, says he shot and killed model Steenkamp by mistake.

Pistorius fired four shots through the locked door of a toilet enclosed inside his bathroom because he thought there was an intruder in there, he says.

Prosecutors say he intended to kill the 29-year-old Steenkamp after a fight in the early hours of the morning.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-02-21

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