Oscar Pistorius Nears Trial Date in Girlfriend’s Killing

By ABC News

Aug 13, 2013 9:40am
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Oscar Pistorius appears in the Pretoria Magistrates court, June 4, 2013, in Pretoria, South Africa. Theana Breugem/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images

ABC News’ Liezl Thom reports:

Olympic athlete and accused killer Oscar Pistorius might find out next week when his trial will start.

Pistorius is accused of shooting his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, through a closed door in a Valentine’s Day tragedy that sent shock waves throughout the world.

The Olympian is due back in court Aug. 19, the day on which Steenkamp would have celebrated her 30th birthday. Prosecutors allege Pistorius had every intention of killing his girlfriend, but he claims it was a case of mistaken identity – that he mistook her for an intruder.

During his bail application, Pistorius said, in a statement read out in court, that he felt threatened and feared for his own safety and that of Steenkamp, as he was not wearing his prosthetic legs and was only moving about on his stumps. Both his legs were amputated at the age of eleven months after he was born without fibulas, the long slender bones ordinarily located outside the larger tibia bones in the lower part of each leg. He had two tiny toes on each foot.

EXPLORE ABC NEWS REPORTING ON THE PISTORIUS CASE

A spokesperson for South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority says the police investigation into the killing has been completed and the indictment is ready to be served. This will outline the exact charges against the man dubbed “the Blade-runner” and will give an indication of who the state plans to call to testify in the high-profile murder case.

The trial is likely to only start early next year as the matter will be transferred to the North Gauteng High Court and the clerk of the court first has to find an opening in the court roll. South Africa does not have a jury system; a judge, most likely assisted by two court appointed assessors, will determine Pistorius’ guilt or innocence. If he is found guilty of premeditated murder, which is what the state is arguing for, he could face a life sentence.

Pistorius is out on a million rand bail (around $100,000). His bail conditions were relaxed earlier this year to allow him to compete abroad but to date, he has not entered any competitions. He was recently spotted kayaking in the coastal town of Hermanus, in the Western Cape province. His family and media manager have declined to comment on the photos of that expedition, which are  currently circulating in the South African press.

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