PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Oscar Pistorius held his head in his hands and wept openly in court Friday as prosecutors said they would pursue a charge of premeditated murder against the Paralympic superstar.
Pistorius was formally charged at Pretoria Magistrate’s Court with one count of murder after his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, a model and budding reality TV show participant, was shot and killed at Pistorius’ upmarket home in the predawn hours of Thursday.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said Friday in court it was premeditated murder, indicating the prosecution would file that more serious charge, upgraded from murder.
The double-amputee athlete’s arrest and murder charge has left South Africa reeling after the model’s shooting death at Pistorius’ house in an eastern suburb of the South African capital., Pretoria
Pistorius stood with his face in his hands as he broke down in tears on his first appearance at the Pretoria Magistrates’ Court. The magistrate delayed Pistorius’ bail hearing until next Tuesday and Wednesday and ruled that the 26-year-old Pistorius would be held at a police station in Pretoria until then. Police have said they oppose the granting of bail.
Pistorius had solemnly entered the court wearing a grey suit and blue tie and initially appeared composed.
Chief Magistrate Desmond Nasir presided over the hearing in a hot courtroom that was jammed with more than 100 people, including numerous local and international journalists. The magistrate ruled that no recordings of court proceedings would be allowed in the case.
Pistorius’ father, Henke, was in the court as was his brother Carl, sister Aimee and other supporters of the 26-year-old double-amputee athlete.
Pistorius’ brother laid his hand on Pistorius’ shoulder inside the courtroom as the Olympic athlete and one of South Africa’s most famous celebrities began to weep.
Police said Friday an autopsy on the body of the victim was also taking place. Lt. Col. Katlego Mogale said the results of the autopsy would not be published.
The Paralympian and Olympic athlete was earlier seen leaving a police station, his jacket completely covering his head as he got into a police vehicle.
He was holding what appeared to be a white handkerchief in one hand as he was led by officers to a police van outside the Boschkop Police Station in eastern Pretoria, where he had been questioned on Thursday and had spent the night in custody.
A policeman was also seen carrying a handgun in a plastic forensic bag outside the Boschkop station. It was believed to be the weapon used to shoot and kill Steenkamp.
Police said the victim was shot four times at Pistorius’ villa in a gated community. Officers found a 9 mm pistol inside the home.
Pistorius made history at the London Olympics last year when he became the first double-amputee track athlete to compete at any games. He didn’t win a medal but did make the semifinals of the 400 meters and the final of the 4X400 relay, propelling the world’s best-known Paralympian to the level of an international track star.
AP Sports Writer Imray reported from Johannesburg. Associated Press writer Michelle Faul in Johannesburg contributed to this report.
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