• Athletics

Pistorius bail hearing extended to a third day

ESPN staff
February 20, 2013
Oscar Pistorius will be held at Brooklyn police station © AP

Oscar Pistorius' bail hearing was extended to a third day by Pretoria magistrates' court on Wednesday, as he continues to answer a charge of premeditated murder.

The prosecution put forward its case on Wednesday morning, opposing bail by highlighting offshore accounts and a house owned by Pistorius in Italy. "We don't want another Dewani matter," said investigating officer Hilton Botha, referring to Shrien Dewani, the British man who South Africa is currently trying to extradite from the UK.

The defence answered that claim by insisting Pistorius has no house in Italy, and that his offshore account in Brunswick, Carolina is dormant. A verdict is now expected on Thursday.

Pistorius stands accused of murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, who was shot dead in the Paralympian's home. The 26-year-old's defence claims he mistakenly shot Steenkamp when attempting to protect the pair from what he thought was an intruder.

Officer Botha was at the centre of a dramatic cross-examination, declaring his belief that Pistorius knew it was Steenkamp he was shooting, and that there was "no way" it was an act of self-defence.

However, the defence forced Botha into a series of climbdowns, confessing he could not find anything at the crime scene inconsistent with Pistorius' accidental shooting version of events. Botha's witness, who claimed to have heard screaming before gunshots were fired, also proved to be a resident of between 300-600 metres away. The defence put it forward as "fact" that the screams came from a scared Pistorius.

When court resumed after an adjournment, the defence revealed Botha had told the Pistorius family that bail should not be opposed. Botha explained that he later changed his mind as he got deeper into his investigation.

The defence also revealed the "unlicenced" .38 ammunition found in Pistorius' house legally belonged to his father, and said that there was no substance to the claim that gunshots were fired through the toilet door at an angle - which had been part of the prosecution's case in proving Steenkamp was cowering from Pistorius.

Botha admitted both defence claims were true, with the Ballistics report yet to be completed.

Gerrie Nel, the prosecuting lawyer, then re-examined Botha, asking: "If Steenkamp was in the toilet and heard her boyfriend shout, wouldn't she have answered?" Botha replied: "She would have answered."

Nel and Botha also revealed the latter had attended a previous arrest of Pistorius, although it came to light that Pistorius is now suing the woman in question for malicious prosecution and wrongful arrest.

Botha was eventually asked if he believed Pistorius would flee South Africa if granted bail. The magistrate highlighted the fact he is an internationally recognised athlete and uses prostheses, but Botha answered "yes" to the question, promoting laughter from the gallery.

Botha explained that Pistorius had the funds and motive to flee the country, at which point court was adjourned until 9am on Thursday.

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