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Pistorius to face additional gun charges at murder trial

South African Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius faces two additional gun-related charges at his trial for the murder of his girlfriend, the prosecution said on Tuesday.

world Updated: Oct 30, 2013 02:45 IST
Oscar Pistorius,Paralympics,blade runner

South African Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius faces two additional gun-related charges at his trial for the murder of his girlfriend, the prosecution said on Tuesday.

The prosecution won permission to add the charges to their main case against Pistorius for the Valentine's Day murder of Reeva Steenkamp, even though the two alleged violations are understood to have taken place before the killing.

"The prosecution received authorisation to combine or centralise all charges against Mr Pistorius," National Prosecution Authority spokesman Nathi Mncube told AFP.

Pistorius's defence team was informed of the decision on Tuesday, he said, adding that the charges were not new, without elaborating.

The double amputee, known as the "Blade Runner" for the fibreglass prosthetic legs he uses in competition, shocked the world when he admitted to killing Steenkamp, a blonde cover girl and law graduate.

He has however denied murder, saying he shot her through a locked bathroom door in his upmarket Pretoria home because he thought she was an intruder.

While Mncube was quoted later Tuesday as stressing the "convenience" of having the cases heard together, prosecutors have hinted at a strategy that will portray Pistorius as trigger-happy and that the killing was pre-meditated.

According to local media, the sprint star once fired a shot through the sunroof of his former girlfriend Samantha Taylor's car. He had also allegedly accidentally discharged a firearm at a Johannesburg restaurant, weeks before he killed Steenkamp.

Pistorius catapulted to fame at last year's London Olympics as the first double-amputee to compete against able-bodied athletes.

But the killing sent shock waves around the world and since then his reckless past and love of fast cars, beautiful women and guns has emerged in the media.

One newspaper has dubbed him the "Blade Gunner".

Pistorius has long been open about his love for guns.

The sprinter slept with a pistol under his bed at his upmarket home in a high-security Pretoria estate for fear of burglars, he told Britain's Daily Mail last year.

He once took a journalist interviewing him to a shooting range.

Just weeks after he shot Steenkamp, Pistorius's father Henke, said white South Africans must own guns because the ANC government does not protect them.

The statement caused discomfort and forced the family to publicly distance itself from the remarks.

The trial of Pistorius, who is currently out on bail, is set for March 3 to 20 at the Pretoria High Court.

His lawyers were not immediately reachable for comment, but a Pistorius family spokeswoman, Anneliese Burgess, told AFP: "The family sees this as a legal matter and don't want to comment on legal issues."

A senior judge will hear the case as South Africa does not have a jury system.

The case will hear testimony from 107 witnesses, including many of Pistorius's neighbours.

The Johannesburg-born athlete was born without calf bones and had both legs amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old.

The murder case halted his participation in athletic events and ended lucrative endorsement deals with US sportswear giant Nike and French cosmetic firm Clarins.

First Published: Oct 30, 2013 02:43 IST