Oscar prepares for high-stakes trial

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IOL pic aug19 oscar pistorius court file ap

Associated Press

Oscar Pistorius is seen during a break in proceedings at the Pretoria Magistrate's Court. File photo: Themba Hadebe, AP

Pretoria - Murder-accused paralympian Oscar Pistorius has over six months to prepare for trial after shooting dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius appeared briefly in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court on Monday, before Magistrate Desmond Nair.

“The matter that is before me today is merely for the postponement to the high court. It is merely a short appearance,” Nair said.

He asked Pistorius if he agreed that he would arrange his own defence and witnesses.

“I am satisfied with the provisions my legal team has made,” Pistorius replied.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel handed the indictment to the court.

“We will serve the indictment on the accused... We have arranged a date for the trial.”

Nair then served the papers on Pistorius.

“I'm enjoined by legislation to serve them on you and I am now doing that,” said Nair.

The papers were handed over to a court official, who had to get past a number of journalists sitting on the courtroom floor, to hand over to Pistorius.

The trial was moved to the High Court in Pretoria and would run from March 3 to 20.

The indictment lists 107 witnesses to testify for the State.

Among them are Pistorius's sister Aimee, his uncle Arnold, former police investigator Hilton Botha, and residents of the Silver Woods Country Estate in Pretoria, where he lived.

Medical experts, a weather forecaster, paramedics, ballistic and forensic experts will also be called.

Pistorius's former girlfriends, Melissa Rom and Samantha Taylor would also testify.

Melissa is the daughter of Pretoria hairdresser Gary Rom.

Samantha's mother Patricia Ann Taylor was also on the witness list.

Also making the list are two people from Melrose Arch in Johannesburg where Pistorius accidentally fired a gun in a busy restaurant in January. He narrowly missed a friend's foot.

Former soccer player Mark Bachelor who said after an argument with the paralympian that Pistorius threatened to break his legs was also on the list.

Steenkamp was killed in Pistorius's Pretoria home on February 14. At his bail hearing, Pistorius submitted that he thought Steenkamp was an intruder.

Members of the Myers family were also due to testify next year. This was the family Steenkamp lived with in Johannesburg. Their daughter Gina was Steenkamp's best friend.

Botha, who was lead detective in the case, was later replaced by Lt-Gen Vineshkumar Moonoo.

Botha's removal from the Pistorius case followed reports in February that he was himself charged with attempted murder.

Police later confirmed that he had seven attempted murder charges pending. In 2011 Botha allegedly fired shots at a minibus while trying to stop the vehicle. Seven people were in the taxi at the time.

Along with murder, Pistorius was also charged with contravening the Firearms Control Act, the National Prosecuting Authority said. The charges were not read out in court.

The indictment read: “In that on or about 16 February 2013 and at (Silver Woods Country estate address) the accused (Pistorius) did unlawfully have in his possession ammunition, to wit 38 x 38 rounds, without being the holder of a licence in respect of a firearm capable of discharging that ammunition...”

After his appearance, Pistorius - wearing a black suit and navy blue shirt - was embraced by his family before being escorted out of the courthouse by about 20 police officers.

Earlier, Pistorius and his siblings held hands and bowed their heads in prayer for about 15 minutes. Aimee and Carl shed tears ahead of their brother's appearance.

Sapa


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