Pistorius murder trial date set for March
on 19/08/2013 15:10:25
A Pretoria court set March 3 next year for the start of the case against Pistorius, who has said he shot Reeva Steenkamp by mistake, believing she was an intruder in his home. Prosecutors, who allege he killed her after an argument, submitted a list of more than 100 witnesses.
Pistorius, 26, appeared in court for the indictment, and wept and held hands with his relatives before proceedings started.
The case will be sent to the High Court in Pretoria, the South African capital, where a judge will preside over the trial and ultimately pronounce the athlete innocent or guilty. South Africa does not have trial by jury.
The mandatory sentence for someone convicted of premeditated murder is life with a minimum of 25 years in prison, meaning if Pistorius is found guilty, he will be older than 50, at least, when he leaves prison. There is no death penalty.
Police announced this month that they had completed their six-month investigation into Ms Steenkamp's killing at Pistorius' home in Pretoria.
South Africa's national police commissioner's office said detectives, forensic experts, ballistics experts, psychologists and technology experts all worked on the case and are confident that they have the evidence to convict Pistorius.
The most telling evidence may be in records on phones found at Pistorius' home and through examination of the toilet cubicle door through which he shot four bullets, hitting Ms Steenkamp three times. The angle or trajectory of the bullets could show if Pistorius was standing on his stumps when he shot, as he says, or if he was on his prosthetics, as the prosecution maintains - a marked difference in the two accounts.
Pistorius was seen just twice in public between the time he was granted bail on February 22 and a previous appearance in court on June 4. His family had announced he would return to a "low-key" track routine and he was seen jogging on his regular practice facility in late June.
The 11-page indictment yielded new detail about how prosecutors will pursue a case that has gripped the world because of the celebrity status of Pistorius.
Prosecutors said Pistorius shot "with the intention to kill a person," and a prosecution spokesman said after the hearing that it was premeditated murder.
The prosecution also will attempt to show the couple argued before she was killed as part of its case that Pistorius intended to kill Ms Steenkamp.
Although the word "premeditated" was not contained in the indictment, prosecutors said afterward that it was a case of premeditated murder.
"When you talk of intentional, it's premeditated. Intentional. He wanted to do that," prosecution spokesman Medupe Simasiku said. "In as far as a sound case, let the court decide on that. We believe it will go through in our favor."
Prosecutors said a second charge of possession of illegal ammunition relates to a lack of proper licensing for .38 calibre bullets found at Pistorius' home.