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Oscar Pistorius' family denies premeditated murder charge

February 16, 2013|By Dan Loumena
  • Henke Pistorius, father of Oscar Pistorius, sits in court with Oscar's sister, Aimee. In a statement, Pistorius' family denied that the athlete had murdered his girlfriend, saying: "The alleged murder is disputed in the strongest possible terms."
Henke Pistorius, father of Oscar Pistorius, sits in court with Oscar's… (EPA )

The uncle of Oscar Pistorius, the South African sprinter who became the first double amputee to race in the Olympics, says his family is "battling to come to terms" with his nephew's being charged with murder and it strongly disagrees with the prosecution's seeking a premeditated murder charge.

Pistorius is accused of killing his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, who was shot four times and found dead at his residence in Pretoria.

The police said Pistorius is the only suspect in the case. Pistorius reportedly told police that he killed his girlfriend by accident when he thought she was a burglar as she returned to his home early Valentine's Day morning.

PHOTOS: Oscar Pistorius faces murder charges

“After consulting with legal representatives, we deeply regret the allegation of premeditated murder,” said Arnold Pistorius, delivering the first on-camera statements the family has made since his nephew's arrest.

“We have no doubt there is no substance to the allegation and that the state's own case, including its own forensic evidence, strongly refutes any possibility of a premeditated murder or murder as such.”

Pistorious was born without fibulas in his legs and they were amputated when he was 11 months old. He became a national hero when he transitioned from the Paralympic Games, in which he was a champion sprinter, to setting his sights on running in the Olympics. He made the semifinals in the 400 meters and the finals in the 400-meter relay at the London Games last summer.

Pistorius is being held at a police station pending a bail hearing Tuesday, when prosecutors and police are likely to oppose Pistorius being released before his trial. If convicted of premeditated murder, Pistorious faces an automatic sentence of life in prison.

South African news reports said that Pistorius shot Steenkamp four times through a bathroom door, citing a neighbor who spoke with security guards. Under South African law, a person who fatally shoots an intruder has to prove he or she had a reasonable fear that the intruder posed a real threat to his or her life.

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Wire and Internet reports contributed to this article.

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