Oscar Pistorius weeps as court hears murder charge

Oscar Pistorius faces murder charge in court

South African Olympic and Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius wept in court as prosecutors said they would pursue a "premeditated murder" charge over the death of his girlfriend.

Model Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead at his home near Pretoria on Thursday.

An application for bail was postponed until next Tuesday and Mr Pistorius, 26, will remain in police custody.

The athlete later said in a statement released by his agent that he disputed the charge in the "strongest terms".

The statement also said that "firstly, and most importantly, all our thoughts today must be with the family and friends of Reeva Steenkamp".

'Traumatised'

Dozens of reporters were in the courtroom in Pretoria on Friday, where chief magistrate Desmond Nair was presiding.

The BBC's Andrew Harding, at the scene, said the defendant cut a lonely figure, holding his head forward and breathing heavily through tears.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel argued for a "premeditated murder" charge. Mr Pistorius slumped forward at the mention of the words.

Media access was discussed at the 40-minute session and the magistrate ruled that there should be no live recording of the bail hearings.

Mr Pistorius's team had argued against such coverage and cited his "extremely traumatised state of mind".

Both prosecution and defence agreed Mr Pistorius could remain in custody at a police station and not in prison.

Members of Mr Pistorius's family, including sister Aimee, brother Carl and father Henke, were in the courtroom.

Relatives reached forward to touch Mr Pistorius's shoulder as he stood and left the courtroom at the end of proceedings.

Mr Pistorius had earlier arrived at court in the back of a police vehicle, hiding his face with a jacket and notebook.

Forensic experts are expected to continue examining the house in the Silver Lakes area on the outskirts of South Africa's administrative capital where Ms Steenkamp, 29, died.

Correspondents say the athlete's arrest has stunned the country where he is considered a national hero.

He made history in London last year when he became the first double-amputee track athlete to compete in the Olympic Games.

Oscar Pistorius

South Africa's Oscar Pistorius starts his men's 400m round 1 heats at the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in this August 4, 2012
  • Popularly known as "blade runner", he was born without a fibula in both legs
  • Won a key legal battle in 2008, when athletics' governing body, the IAAF, allowed him to compete against able-bodied athletes
  • Made history in London 2012 by becoming the first amputee sprinter to compete in the Olympics
  • Apologised after claiming that his rival, Brazilian Alan Oliveira, was wearing blades that were too long in the 2012 Paralympics 200m final

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 his 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.

A post-mortem examination is being carried out on Friday but the results will not be made public, police said.

Mr Pistorius and Ms Steenkamp had reportedly been dating since November.

Mr Pistorius 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.

He reached the 400m semi-finals in the London 2012 Olympics. At the Paralympics he won silver in the T44 200m, gold in the 4x100 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.

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