Oscar Pistorius in court on murder charge
Oscar Pistorius is appearing in court to face a murder charge after his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, was shot at his mansion near Pretoria.
South African Olympic and Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius held his head in his hands and was in tears as the murder charge was formally read out in the magistrates’ court.
A decision will be taken on whether the athlete should be granted bail.
Prosecutors will argue that Oscar Pistorius should remain in custody.
Dozens of photographers are in the courtroom in Pretoria, where chief magistrate Desmond Nair is hearing the bail application.
The defendant cut a lonely figure, with his head forward and breathing heavily through tears.
It is likely that some details of both the case against the 26-year-old, and his defence, will be revealed.
Television cameras have been allowed in court for the hearing and media access is now being discussed. Members of Oscar Pistorius’s family, including his sister and father, are in the courtroom.
Oscar Pistorius has undergone medical and DNA tests. His lawyer, Kenny Oldwage, earlier said that his client was “very well, obviously emotional, but fine”.
The defence is expected to argue that Oscar Pistorius is not a flight risk and should be given bail.
Forensic experts are expected to continue examining the house in the upmarket Silver Woods gated community on the outskirts of South Africa’s administrative capital where Reeva Steenkamp, 29, died.
Correspondents say the athlete’s arrest has stunned the country where Oscar Pistorius is considered a national hero.
Oscar Pistorius made history in London last year when he became the first double-amputee track athlete to compete in the Olympic Games.
He is known as the “blade runner” because of the carbon fibre prosthetic blades he races in. He was born without a fibula in both legs and had his legs amputated below the knee before his first birthday.
Police were called to Oscar Pistorius’ home in the early hours of Thursday morning.
They found paramedics treating a 29-year-old woman with four gunshot wounds to the head and upper body. She died at the scene, and officers recovered a 9mm pistol.
Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp had reportedly been dating since November.
The athelete dominated in his category at successive Paralympic Games, but in 2008 he won a legal battle over his blades – which critics said gave him an unfair advantage – with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) for the right to compete in able-bodied competitions.
Oscar Pistorius reached the 400m semi-finals in the London 2012 Olympics. At the Paralympics he won silver in the T44 200m, gold in the 4×100 relay and gold in the T44 400m, setting a Paralympic record.
South Africa has one of the highest rates of crime in the world and many residents keep weapons to protect themselves against intruders.
But gun ownership is strictly regulated and it is not easy to obtain a licence.