Lead investigator in Oscar Pistorius trial faces attempted murder charges
2:17 AM, Feb 21, 2013
5:59 AM, Feb 21, 2013
PRETORIA, South Africa - The lead investigator in the murder case against Oscar Pistorius faces attempted murder charges himself over a 2011 shooting, police said Thursday.
The prosecution said they were unaware of the charges against the detective when they put him on the stand in court to explain why Pistorius should not be given bail.
Police Brig. Neville Malila told The Associated Press that detective Hilton Botha -- who gave testimony in the Pistorius bail hearing on Wednesday -- is scheduled to appear in court in May on seven counts of attempted murder. The charges relate to an incident in October 2011, when Botha and two other police officers fired shots at a minibus, Malila said.
Malila said police learned Wednesday, the same day that Botha appeared in court to oppose Pistorius' bail application, that the charges against Botha and the two others had been reinstated by the Director of Public Prosecutions. They were initially dropped following the shooting incident.
Malila said police were waiting for details from the Botha case file from the prosecutor.
Medupe Simasiku, the spokesman for the prosecutors charging Pistorius with premeditated murder, said he couldn't say how the charges against Botha would affect their case against Pistorius.
It was clear they could undermine it, however.
"The (Pistorius) prosecutors were not aware of those charges (against Botha)," Simasiku, of the National Prosecution Agency, said. "We are calling up the information so we can get the details of the case. From there we can take action and see if we remove him from the investigation or if he stays."
On Wednesday, the prosecution case against Pistorius began to unravel with revelations of a series of police blunders and Botha's admission that authorities have no evidence challenging the double-amputee Olympic athlete's claim he killed his girlfriend accidentally.
Pistorius faces a charge of premeditated murder, but says he shot girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp accidentally with a licensed firearm after thinking she was a dangerous intruder in his house.
In his often confused testimony, Botha, who was described as a 24-year police veteran with 16 years as a detective, conceded that police had left a 9 mm slug from the barrage that killed Steenkamp inside a toilet at the scene. Police also lost track of illegal ammunition found inside the house, Botha said, and the detective himself walked through the crime scene without wearing protective shoe covers, potentially contaminating the area.
He also claimed in court that police found boxes of testosterone and needles in multiple Paralympic champion Pistorius' bedroom following the Valentine's Day shooting last week, but then said later he wasn't sure what the exact name of the substance was.
The prosecution conceded laboratory tests on the substance weren't yet completed and so it was unclear what it was.
Pistorius' defense lawyer Barry Roux asserted that authorities were taking "every piece of evidence to try to extract the most possibly negative connotation and present it to the court."
The case, which is still only in a bail hearing, has riveted much of the world with its dramatic developments as Pistorius, the man known as the Blade Runner for his famous carbon-fiber running prostheses, says he shot and killed model Steenkamp by mistake.
Pistorius fired four shots through the locked door of a toilet enclosed inside his bathroom because he thought there was an intruder in there, he says.
Prosecutors say he intended to kill the 29-year-old Steenkamp after a fight in the early hours of the morning.