Thursday 21 February 2013

Pistorius detective facing attempted murder charges

    The lead detective in the Oscar Pistorius murder case is himself facing seven charges of attempted murder.
    The day after Detective Hilton Botha was subjected to intense questioning from Pistorius's defence team, South African police have confirmed that he is under investigation.
    "We were only informed yesterday that attempted murders charges against Hilton Botha have been reinstated," said police spokesman Neville Malila.
    According to South Africa's Eye-Witness News, Botha and three other policemen were involved in a 2009 incident when Botha allegedly fired shots at a taxi in an attempt to stop it.
    Botha was arrested at the time but the charges were later dropped. They have now been reinstated.
    Despite police initially standing by Botha, the National Prosecuting Authority says the detective "cannot continue" his role in the high-profile Pistorius case.

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    On Wednesday, Botha was questioned by lawyers as Pistorius sought bail in the court case that has gripped the world's media.
    Botha told the court of a witness who heard arguing, a woman screaming and gunfire at Pistorius's the night he shot dead his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
    A woman who lives in the same highly secured complex as Pistorius "heard talking that sounded like non-stop fighting from two to three in the morning," hours before she was killed, Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said.
    Another witness reported hearing gunshots, screams and then more shots, police said.
    "We have the statement of a person who said after he heard gunshots, he went to his balcony and saw the light was on. Then he heard a female screaming two-three times, then more gunshots," Detective Botha said.
    But Pistorius's legal team disputed these accounts as police said the witnesses were at least 300 metres (nearly 990 feet) from the house.
    And the prosecution, which wants to prove that the Paralympian had deliberately planned to kill Reeva Steenkamp, was forced to admit that Pistorius's claim that he mistook her for an intruder matched the crime scene.

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    "It sounds consistent," Botha said.
    Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model, was shot three times through the bathroom door early on February 14, with wounds to her head, elbow and hip.
    She was declared to have died later by medics who found her covered in bloodied towels and wearing white shorts and a black vest.
    Botha was forced to admit police had missed a bullet that hit the toilet basin in their investigation and which the defence's forensic team discovered four days later.
    Botha also conceded he did not wear protective clothing in his inspection, which may have contaminated the scene.
    Pistorius, the first double amputee to compete against able-bodied athletes in the Olympics in London last year, says he shot Steenkamp by mistake through a locked bathroom door, believing she was a burglar.
    "I had no intention to kill my girlfriend," he said in an affidavit read to the court on the first day of his bail hearing Monday.
    The case will continue on Thursday (South African time).

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