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  • Pistorius Denies Murder Charges; Craven Seeks to Lift Paralympic Movement


    02/19/13

    Pistorius Denies Murder Charges

    Olympic and Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius resumed his bail hearing on Tuesday, rejecting the charges of murder brought against him.
    Oscar Pistorius in court Tuesday. (Getty Images)

    In an affidavit read to the courtroom in Pretoria, South Africa, he said: “I fail to understand how I could be charged with murder, let alone premeditated. I had no intention to kill my girlfriend.”

    Prosecutors allege that Pistorius, 26, shot Reeva Steenkamp four times behind a closed bathroom door on Feb. 14.

    Barry Roux, Pistorius’ lawyer, was quoted by the Associated Press saying before the hearing: "We submit it is not even murder. There is no concession this is a murder."

    According to local media reports, Pistorius claimed he was unaware Steenkamp was in his home last Thursday when he fired the shots. He said he heard the noise and thought a burglar had entered his house.

    Gerrie Nel, prosecutor for the case, said Pistorius had put on his prosthetic legs and walked to the bathroom. Pistorius contested he did not have his legs on at the time, adding to his fear.

    “[Steenkamp] could not go anywhere,” Nel said, according to a report in The New York Times. “It must have been horrific. She locked the door for a purpose. We will get to that purpose.”

    The judge hearing the case said bail would be difficult due to the charges of premeditated murder, but said the charges could be lessened depending on evidence presented at future hearings.

    Funeral for Steenkamp

    The family of Steenkamp held a funeral for the late model on Tuesday in her hometown of Port Elizabeth.
    Friends and family in Port Elizabeth for Reeva Steenkamp's funeral. (Getty Images)

    “There’s a space missing inside all the people that she knew,” her brother Adam told reporters following the service.

    “Everyone is sad understandably, but at certain points we were smiling whilst remembering Reeva because we only have good memories of her,” he added.

    In an interview with The Times of Johannesburg, Steenkamp’s mother June asked: "Why? Why my little girl? Why did this happen? Why did he do this? What for?"

    Craven Seeks to Lift Paralympic Movement

    Despite the murder charges facing Pistorius, IPC president Phil Craven tells Around the Rings the Paralympic Movement can move forward with confidence.
    Phil Craven at the London Paralympics. (ATR/Panasonic Lumix)

    The South African poster boy for the 2012 Paralympics won two golds and a silver at the Games.

    Craven told ATR of his “shock and disbelief” when he first found out about the murder allegations on Feb. 14.

    He said the IPC had today sent a letter to all 180 Paralympic member nations and the 26 sports on the London 2012 program to offer reassurances about the impact of the high-profile case on the Paralympic Movement.

    “We are a very big family and that is why today we want to make contact with members and reassure them that whatever emotions they are feeling is quite natural,” he said.

    According to Craven, the three points of the letter are: to inform them of his emotions concerning the Pistorius case “and expecting them to have gone through a similar process”; reiterating that it is a police matter; and moving forward, remembering that London is still very much “in the hearts and minds of everyone around the world” heading to Sochi and Rio.

    The British IOC member touched briefly on Pistorius’ London 2012 legacy, while adding in the same breath that many other stars had lit up the Games.

    “Oscar and his performances on the track, everybody will remember those,” he said, adding that the track star’s public profile had made it even more difficult for him to understand the details of the allegations facing Pistorius.

    “Each time me or my wife met Oscar he has always come over as a good athlete with a good brain on his shoulders, very sympatique to sport and what it’s all about,” he added.

    Under efforts to show that the Paralympic Movement’s growth would not be hampered by the Pistorius case, he emphasized that the London Paralympics made stars of many other athletes. Brazil’s Alan Oliveira, Britain’s Ellie Simmonds, David Weir and Sarah Storey were among them, he said.

    “The stars that came out of London 2012 were legion. It is upon the shoulders of these athletes that the Paralympic Movement is moving forward,” he said.
    Oscar Pistorius at London 2012. (ATR/Panasonic Lumix)

    Craven was speaking to ATR from La Molina, Spain, where the IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships opened on Tuesday.

    “It comes back to the athletes,” he said, pointing to the stars of the slopes. “The momentum from London is just continuing despite this news.”

    The IPC is not making any statement about some of the lurid allegations that have engulfed Pistorius relating to the murder charges.

    Craven added: “We will be awaiting the procedures that will take place in South Africa. We are letting it take its course and will respond as and when required.”

    Reports suggest the murder trial could take place four to six months from now.

    Reported by Ed Hula III and Mark Bisson

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