Trial of South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius postponed



JOHANNESBURG — Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius displayed no emotion during a brief court hearing Tuesday that saw the celebrity shooting case that has transfixed South Africa postponed until August.

Pistorius is charged with premeditated murder in the Valentine’s Day killing of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp. She would have turned 30 on Aug. 19, the day the case is scheduled to resume.

Pistorius says he mistook Steenkamp for a burglar and shot her through the door of the toilet cubicle in the bathroom. The prosecution alleges that he killed her after she locked herself in the cubicle to hide after an argument.

The mutually agreed-to postponement was allowed so that police could complete their investigation.

Pistorius drew world fame for competing in the 2012 London Olympics on prosthetic legs. He had his lower legs amputated as a young child because he was born without fibula bones.

Pretoria Magistrate Daniel Thulare lashed out Tuesday at media coverage of the trial, including international reporting, calling it scandalous and possibly contemptuous.

“It appears there is trial by media,” he said.

Thulare’s comments came after British broadcaster Sky News aired photographs of the blood-spattered bathroom in which Steenkamp died, showing two bullet holes that appeared to be low in the cubicle door. The station also showed photographs of the unopened Valentine’s Day gift and heart-shaped candies she had brought him.

Another British television station, Channel 5, aired a program Monday titled “Why Did Oscar Pistorius Kill Our Daughter?” that included an interview with Steenkamp’s mother, June. She described a call she received from her daughter from a car Pistorius was driving at high speed.

“She was afraid, she was so afraid. She phoned me and she said, ‘Mummy, I’m in the car with Oscar and he’s driving like a lunatic,'” June Steenkamp said. “A week or so later, she phoned me, we chatted about this and that, little girl things. I said, ‘How’s it going with Oscar?’ She said that ‘we’ve been fighting, we’ve been fighting a lot.'”

June Steenkamp said she and her husband, Barry, were mortified that they had been unable to protect her.

“How did she end up with a person like this? Who could shoot her? I want to know. We don’t know what happened. There is only one person who knows what happened,” she said.