"Blade Runner" Pistorius set to return to court in murder case

PRETORIA Mon Jun 3, 2013 4:28pm EDT

Oscar Pistorius's lawyers Barry Roux (L) and Brian Webber prepare documents before the start of the application to appeal some of his bail conditions at a Pretoria court in Pretoria March 28, 2013. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Oscar Pistorius's lawyers Barry Roux (L) and Brian Webber prepare documents before the start of the application to appeal some of his bail conditions at a Pretoria court in Pretoria March 28, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

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PRETORIA (Reuters) - South African athletics star Oscar Pistorius is set to attend a court hearing in Pretoria on Tuesday in his first formal appearance since his release on bail in February for the Valentine's Day killing of his girlfriend.

Pistorius, 26, has admitted to shooting Reeva Steenkamp, 29, four times through a locked bathroom door on February 14 at his home in an affluent Pretoria community.

In pre-trial testimony, his lawyers told the court the shooting was a tragic mistake and Pistorius was acting in self-defence against what he thought was an intruder.

Prosecutors accuse him of premeditated murder for firing into the door, hitting Steenkamp in the head, hip and arm.

"This hearing is just for a postponement, which may not even go above 10 minutes," prosecution spokesman Medupe Simasiku said.

Pistorius, a double amputee nicknamed "Blade Runner" for the prosthetics he uses in competition, was one of the stars of the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics in London.

His arrest and subsequent murder charge shocked millions around the world as he was seen as a symbol of triumph over adversity.

In South Africa, he was a hero for both blacks and whites, transcending the racial divides that persist 19 years after the end of apartheid.

Pistorius has mostly kept out of the public eye since he secured bail. Media reported that in April he partied at a nightclub in a Johannesburg suburb after his bail conditions were relaxed in March.

The Pistorius camp said the matter was blown out of proportion and he went out for a quiet dinner with friends after spending weeks in the house with family.

South Africa does not have trial by jury so pre-trial media coverage is seldom deemed to be prejudicial.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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