Pistorius: From medallist to murder suspect in court
In a hot and packed Pretoria court room Oscar Pistorius was transformed Friday from a dynamic medal-winning Olympic icon to a sobbing murder suspect.
Hours before the suspect was even scheduled to arrive more than 150 people crammed between the brick walls of Pretoria Magistrate’s courtroom C.
Distressed family members, court workers, police and reporters from around the world waited together uneasily — not risking even a toilet break — to see what had become of one of the world’s most famous athletes.
Court officials shut out dozens of other onlookers. A few, lucky to be near small glass windows on two doors, peeped through.
After the clamouring, waiting and whispered requests for water and tissues for the 26-year-old, the room arose for Magistrate Desmond Nair’s arrival.
Then through a wood-framed door — wearing a dark navy blue suit, a light blue shirt and sombre striped tie — walked Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius.
Grim-faced, the double-amputee sprinter filed into the defendant’s bench.
And then the emotion of the moment struck.
Sister Aimee, brother Carl and father Henke watched in distress and disbelief as the murder charge was read and Pistorius wept audibly, bowed his head and clasped his hands to his face.
With the eyes of the world on him, Pistorius then sat pensively, face down, breaking into sobs from time to time, prompting his father to stretch his hand across from the public gallery to console his son.
Much of the legal discussion focused on whether the magistrate would entertain a request from journalists — many from abroad — for the hearing to be televised.
The answer was no.
When Nair declared that Pistorius’s bail application would be delayed to next Tuesday and he would be remanded in a Pretoria police station, the athlete sobbed again before being escorted away.
His lawyers had sought a postponement to allow them more time to build arguments for his release from custody.
One fan watched in disbelief and just shook his head at seeing the distraught athlete, refusing to believe his hero could be guilty of premeditated murder.
“It’s something that could have happened to anyone,” said Shadrack Mafutsa, a 32-year-old law student, sitting a row behind some Pistorius family members.
“He thought it was an intruder and he was defending himself, unfortunately it was someone he dearly loved.”