Court remands Pistorius in custody
South African 'Blade Runner' Oscar Pistorius (left) is escorted by police at a Pretoria police station yesterday. Photograph: Reuters
South African superstar athlete Oscar Pistorius is to remain in custody as the judge in a Pretoria court postponed his murder case until next Tuesday.
Prosecutors told the court today they will argue that Pistorius committed premeditated murder when he shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp dead at his luxury home yesterday.
Pistorius faces life in prison if found guilty. He did not enter a plea but a statement issued by his family and London-based agent said the charge was disputed "in the strongest possible terms".
"He (Pistorius) has made it very clear that he would like to send his deepest sympathies to the family of Reeva," the statement said, in the first message attributed to him since his arrest.
Pistorius, a double amputee who became one of the biggest names in world athletics, broke down in tears after being formally charged with the murder this morning.
Dressed in a dark suit, the 26-year-old Olympic and Paralympic superstar stood with head bowed in front of magistrate Desmond Nair to hear the charge of one count of murder read out.
He then started sobbing, covering his face with his hands. "Take it easy. Come take a seat," Judge Nair told him.
The downfall of the track superstar has stunned a nation that reveres "the fastest man on no legs" as a hero who triumphed over adversity to compete with able-bodied athletes at the highest levels of sport.
Steenkamp (30), a model, was found shot dead in his plush Pretoria home in the early hours of yesterday, police said. The Afrikaans-language Beeld newspaper said she had been hit four times, in the head, chest, pelvis and hand.
"The security guards found Pistorius by Steenkamp's body in the bathroom," the paper said on its website, citing a neighbour. "The door had bullet holes right through it."
Police said neighbours had heard noises before the shots and that there had been previous "domestic" incidents at the house.
Pistorius was held overnight in a Pretoria police station. This morning he was led, flanked by family members and officers, to a police station wagon to be taken to the capital's central magistrate's court.
The hearing was delayed for two hours as his defence lawyers objected to the scrum of local and international reporters packed into the courtroom.
South African newspapers plastered the killing across their front pages, relegating a state of the nation address by President Jacob Zuma in parliament to a distant second.
The coverage reflected shock and dismay at the fall of a sporting legend who commanded rare respect on all sides of South Africa's racial divides.