A statement from Oscar Pistorius’ family and managers says the Olympic track star disputes the claim that he murdered his girlfriend in the “strongest possible terms.”
The statement was issued from London on Friday hours after Pistorius broke down in tears as he appeared in a South African court. It also says the double amputee, who is known as “blade runner,” offered his condolences to the family of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
The statement comes a day after South African authorities arrested the 26-year-old athlete on charges of killing his fashion-model girlfriend at his home in Pretoria. Prosecutors say they will argue the South African native committed premeditated murder.
Investigators say Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model and law school graduate, was shot four times by a 9-millimeter pistol registered to Pistorius. They say he is the only suspect in the case.
On Friday, A VOA reporter who was in the courtroom for Pistorius’ hearing says he wept silently with his head in his hands as proceedings began. He used a jacket to shield his face from reporters and did not comment as he was transferred from prison to the court in the capital.
Pistorius is regarded as a sports hero and national icon in South Africa. He made history last August when he became the first double-amputee to run at the Olympics. He is known as the “blade runner” for competing on high-tech artificial legs.
Initial reports suggested Pistorius may have shot Steenkamp after mistaking her for an intruder. But police say neighbors reported hearing yelling and shouting at the home at the time of the shooting. Police also say there have been previous incidents of a “domestic nature” at the heavily guarded facility.
Officials say Pistorius, who is said to be cooperating with investigators, will remain in custody until a new bail hearing on Tuesday.
Pistorius has won multiple gold medals at the international Paralympics and ran for South Africa in the 400 meters at the London Olympics last year.