Oscar Pistorius murder trial postponed until August


South African Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius (C) leaves on June 4, 2013 the Magistrate Court in Pretoria after appearing for the first time since being freed on bail in February over the Valentine's Day killing of his model girlfriend. The 26-year-old appeared for a brief pre-trial hearing, with both defense and prosecutors seeking a postponement as police try to wrap up their investigation of the case.



A South African magistrate has postponed the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius until August 19 after the prosecution asked for time to prepare for the case.

Pistorius, the double-amputee Olympic sprinter charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, appeared at a pre-trial hearing in a South African court on Tuesday.

Pistorius, 26, has admitted to shooting 29-year-old Steenkamp four times through the locked bathroom door of his Pretoria home on February 14.

Al Jazeera cited Steenkamp's mother, June, as saying:

"I want to know why he shot her, she must have been so afraid in that toilet. We don't know what happened, only one person who knows what happened."

In pre-trial testimony, the former Olympian's lawyers told the court the shooting was a tragic mistake. Pistorius mistook his girlfriend for an intruder, they say, and was acting in what he believed was self-defense when he shot through the door and hit Steenkamp in the head, hip and arm.

Prosecutors accuse Pistorius of premeditated murder.

Pistorius plans to argue self-defense, though South African legal experts insist he's fighting an uphill battle.

Marius du Toit, a former prosecutor, magistrate and now defense attorney with over 20 years' experience in South Africa's justice system, told the AP:

"The fact that he has admitted that he has killed her by pulling the trigger means the state has a prima facie case and it is expected of the accused to come and convince the court otherwise. His version is going to be exposed and scrutinized in the finest, finest detail."

Leading South African firearm lawyer, Martin Hood, told the AP:

"I do not see how Oscar Pistorius could have concluded that a closed door constitutes danger to such an extent that his life is in danger, bearing in mind that he had gone into that situation. So, it begs the question, why did he go looking for trouble?"

The Pistorius family, meantime, released a statement on Sunday supporting the athlete after photographs from the crime scene were leaked.

It read, in part: "We believe in him, love him, and will support him every step of the way in what lies ahead."

Pistorius will remain free on bail.