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Anita Powell, VOA News
Pretoria, South Africa
South African Olympic star Oscar Pistorius appeared Friday in a Pretoria court after being charged with murder over the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, at his home. Prosecutors say they plan to make a case for premeditated murder at trial. The Pistorius family has issued a statement saying they disupte the murder charge "in the strongest terms."
The Oscar Pistorius who entered the courtroom Friday morning appeared a different man from the triumphant running superstar who wowed the world at the London Olympics. He made history at last year's Games by becoming the first double amputee to compete in a regular event.
The man known as the "Blade Runner" for his high-tech artificial legs entered his bail hearing with a drawn face. He blinked rapidly as the prosecutor announced the murder charge.
The 26-year-old then dropped his face into his hands and wept silently. A policewoman put a consoling hand on his shoulder.
Behind him, Pistorius' brother bowed his head into his hands as his father stared stonily ahead. His family said after the appearance they dispute the murder charge and extend sympathies to the Steenkamp family.
Reeva Steenkamp's family had also come to Pretoria to help identify her body. Her autopsy was conducted Friday.
Chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel said the prosecution will argue the murder was premeditated.
This story is as dramatic as Pistorius' own. He was born without fibula bones, and had his lower legs amputated as a child, but that did not stop him from reaching dramatic heights his sport. He holds six Paralympic gold medals.
News of the shooting rocked South Africa, where he is considered a hero and an emblem of a a nation that has struggled to overcome its own obstacles.
On Friday, both legal teams asked for the bail hearing to be postponed until next week to allow for more investigation.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Medupe Simasiku explained the reason behind the request.
"You have heard in court the case has been postponed to Tuesday and Wednesday, the reasons being to give the defense a chance to meet with the accused and get the information that they need to make a bail application," said Simasiku. "We as the NPA, we have agreed, it's not a preferential treatment, it's actually fair to the accused so he can make his defense like anyone. We did not oppose that based on that. ... I can't really reveal much based on what is our approach based on that. ... Up to so far as announced in court, the charge is murder, and the details thereof, I can't really say too much, it just stands as murder."
Pistorius will be held at a Pretoria police station until his hearing next week.
VOA News. "'Blade Runner' Denies Murder Charges"
'Blade Runner' Denies Murder Charges