Police Investigator Pulled Off Blade-Runner Case

Murder-accused paralympian Oscar Pistorius will spend another night in police cells after a day of legal skirmishes between his defence and the State about whether he murdered his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Asked how he felt after proceedings on Thursday, prosecutor Gerrie Nel replied: "Satisfied". Pistorius' counsel Barry Roux said he felt: "Okay".

Pistorius' application for bail enters its fourth day in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court on Friday.

He is charged with murdering Steenkamp, who died in a shooting in his Pretoria home last week. He has denied deliberately shooting her and has said he thought there was a burglar when he fired shots at the bathroom door, killing her.

The paralympian looked tired on Thursday.

Earlier, Nike said it was suspending its contract with him, shortly after news that Clarins had cut ties with him.

Nel started the day with the news that the investigating officer, Hilton Botha, himself faces seven charges of attempted murder.

Later, Botha was withdrawn as the lead investigator in the case.

In court, Nel listened as Roux laid into Botha's "poor" police work, and said the State was falling "far short" of proving murder.

If Pistorius had wanted to kill Steenkamp, he did not have to do it in the bathroom, said Roux. "He could do it anywhere."

Roux described the couple's relationship as "loving" and said that in carrying Steenkamp down the stairs and calling for help after the shooting, Pistorius had indicated that he cared.

"Your worship... the poor quality of the evidence of investigating officer [Hilton] Botha further exposed the disastrous shortcomings of the State's case," he said.

There was no evidence that Pistorius had known that Steenkamp was in the toilet.

That Pistorius lived in a security complex did not make this aspect of the case "neutral".

"Unfortunately, it is not South Africa's best-kept secret: crime is not limited to unsecured areas," Roux said.

Nair wanted to know why Pistorius' affidavit made no mention of Steenkamp's responses when he called out to her before firing shots at what he thought was an intruder in the bathroom.

Roux said it was "unlikely" she would have responded, because she was scared.

He submitted that it was unlikely that Pistorius, who was "an icon", would flee.

"What more must he do? Is there a rule that he must be cross-examined?" asked Roux.

He also insisted that Pistorius did not own a house in Italy, even though one was referred to in a feature on him in "Sarie" magazine.

He argued that a report that Pistorius had accidentally discharged a firearm at Tasha's restaurant, in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, "was vague".

Roux said there would be no outrage - once his defence was heard - if Pistorius was released.

However, Nel rejected Roux's argument, and said that if the State accepted Pistorius' version of events, all that was left was the "planned shooting of an intruder".

He said Pistorius seemed to be under the impression he might not be tried for the shooting.

This was reflected in his use of the words "should there be a trial" in his affidavit.

Nel said Pistorius had not offered to give up his passport, but had merely said he would if it was a condition of bail.

"We say there is nothing exceptional in this person's application. He's a man of means."

Pistorius' "total lack of willingness to take responsibility for his deeds increases his flight risk", said Nel.

No court would ever accept that Pistorius acted in self-defence.

Nel asked why Pistorius had not seen that Steenkamp was not in bed when he reached for his firearm on a side-table.

"There's only two people in the house and you want to protect her, but you don't even look at her?"

"... I'm just saying that his version is so improbable ..."

Pistorius had said there had been threats to his life and to his security at home, but he had never opened a case with the police.

He had also got a friend to take the blame for the shooting at Tasha's.

"He was keen to arm himself and get to the intruder; his action is indicative of a man ready to arm himself, and ready to kill," said Nel.

It was "improbable" that Pistorius had felt vulnerable, but had still headed for the bathroom door, he said.

"It is our respectful submission that he fired four shots, not one shot.

The only reason you fire four shots is to kill.

"At the least there will be culpable homicide," said Nel.

The application resumes at 10am on Friday.



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