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Prosecutor calls Pistorius cold-blooded killer

By Reuters in Pretoria, South Africa | China Daily | Updated: 2013-02-20 07:51

Olympic star weeps in court on day dead girlfriend is laid to rest

"Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorius put on his artificial legs and walked across his bedroom before firing four handgun rounds into the locked bathroom door, killing his cowering girlfriend in cold blood, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Reeva Steenkamp, a law graduate and model, died after being hit by three rounds, prosecutor Gerrie Nel said.

Pistorius, who was officially charged with premeditated murder, wept uncontrollably in court as Nel outlined details of a shooting that has gripped South Africa and the millions around the world who saw the double amputee's track glory as the ultimate tale of triumph over adversity.

Scores of mourners gathered in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth for Steenkamp's funeral, where the mood was one of grief tinged with anger at the loss of "an angel".

In Pretoria central magistrate's court, defense lawyer Barry Roux disputed the murder charge, saying the facts surrounding the shooting in the early hours of Thursday were unclear.

Prosecutor calls Pistorius cold-blooded killer

"All we really know is she locked herself behind the toilet door and she was shot," he told the packed courtroom.

However, Nel, his opposite number at the hearing, painted a picture of premeditated killing - a crime that carries a life sentence in South Africa.

"If I arm myself, walk a distance and murder a person, that is premeditated," he said. "The door is closed. There is no doubt. I walk seven meters and I kill."

"The motive is 'I want to kill'. That's it," he added. "This deceased was in a 1.4 by 1.14 meter little room. She could go nowhere. It must have been horrific."

Pistorius' bail hearing was adjourned to Wednesday.

The arrest of Pistorius, 26, stunned the millions who had watched in awe last year as the Olympic and Paralympic sprinter reached the semifinal of the 400 meters in the London Olympics, running on high-technology carbon-fiber "blades".

Initial reports suggested he might have mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder - a possibility in crime-ridden South Africa and a version Pistorius told his sister immediately after the shooting, Nel said.

The prosecution countered this theory by saying Steenkamp's overnight bag had been found in the bedroom of the plush two-story home in a gated compound north of Pretoria.

Dressed in a dark suit, Pistorius arrived at the court in a police car shortly before 7 am. Proceedings were delayed as more than 100 journalists from around the world jostled to get into the dimly lit, brick-face courtroom.

The case has drawn further attention to endemic violence against women in South Africa after the gangrape, mutilation and murder of a 17-year-old near Cape Town this month.

Members of the Women's League of the ruling African National Congress protested outside the building, waving placards reading "No Bail for Pistorius" and "Rot in jail".

Prosecutor calls Pistorius cold-blooded killer

(China Daily 02/20/2013 page22)

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