ABC News’ Liezl Thom reports:
Oscar Pistorius‘ luxury home in Eastern Pretoria, where he allegedly shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, may be used as evidence against him when his trial on charges of premeditated murder start, ABC News has learned.
Crime scene cleaners say they have been informed by the South African Police Service that no one will be allowed into the house as it will remain a crime scene up until the hearing starts.
Eileen De Jager, owner of a private company, Crime Scene Clean-Ups, said police have told her that the trial judge and other court officials may want to visit the house to clear up any misunderstandings that might arise when the case is heard.
Police officials refused to confirm or deny that, saying it might jeopardize their case if they show their cards now.
They have, however denied claims by Pistorius’ private forensic team that they’re being prevented from examining the door through which Pistorius allegedly shot Steenkamp.
Investigators hired by the Paralympic athlete have told a South African TV station that they’ve yet to be allowed access to the door, which was removed by police four days after Steenkamp’s death.
The investigation into Steenkamp’s murder has been fast tracked and a new team of investigators was appointed after lawyers at Pistorius’ bail application accused police of several bungles.
Steenkamp and Pistorius’ cellphones will play a central role when the trial starts. Forensic experts will also use data collected from the scene to reconstruct the events that played out in the early hours of Valentine’s day.
Pistorius will appear in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court again in June, but it is unlikely that the trial will start before the last quarter of the year.
Prosecutors will likely ask for another postponement when the case resumes and will only serve an indictment on Pistorius, which will outline the exact charges against him, when they are confident they have all the evidence they would need to secure a conviction. A High Court trial date will only be determined once the indictment has been served.
At the moment, the man dubbed the “Blade Runner” stands accused of premeditated murder, but authorities have already indicated that at least one other charge, relating to the possession of unlicensed ammunition, will be added to the charge sheet.
The state alleges Pistorius deliberately shot and killed Steenkamp in a fit of rage, but he claims he thought there was an intruder hiding behind the bathroom door when he opened fire. According to his affidavit, read out in court during the bail hearing, when he realized it was his girlfriend, he tried to resuscitate her but it was already too late.
Pistorius, who was released on bail equivalent to $113,000 in U.S. money, is prohibited by his bail conditions to return to his home before trial.
He is currently living with his uncle Arnold in the affluent Pretoria suburb of Waterkloof — another one of his bail conditions.