sport

Pistorius 'poses flight risk'

Oscar Pistorius is a flight risk if he is granted bail over a charge that he murdered his girlfriend, prosecutors told a Pretoria court.

Paralympic sprinter Pistorius, 26, is accused of murdering 29-year-old Reeva Steenkamp in a premeditated act at his home last week. He claims he shot her through a bathroom door thinking she was an intruder.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said a previous incident where Pistorius is said to have fired a gun in a restaurant, then got a friend to take the blame, suggested he was conscious of protecting himself, and said the athlete might flee the country if granted bail.

"Lots of important people have fled, are still fleeing justice. Lots of people have escaped bail," he said.

"Who should tell the court what happened? The applicant, not the state. We say the court should refuse bail."

He said Pistorius' version of events was "improbable", while the state's version was based on "objective facts".

Nel asked on Thursday if the Paralympian thought that being a world-renowned athlete was an argument for exceptional circumstances and said Pistorius wanted to continue with his life "as if this incident never happened".

He said the athlete's "total lack of insight and willingness to take responsibility for his deeds" increased his risk of fleeing.

He claimed Pistorius' actions that night were indicative of a man ready and willing to fire to kill.

"He fired four shots, not one shot," he said.

"The only reason you fire four shots is to kill. On his own version, he's bound to be convicted."

As the prosecutor continued summing up on Friday, Pistorius stood with his head bowed, often visibly emotional in court.

Mr Nel said the athlete appeared to be treating the situation as "business as usual".

He said Pistorius' claim that he thought there was an intruder in the house was part of his planning, and although Steenkamp's murder might not have been planned days in advance, it was planned that night.

The prosecutor said the model locked herself in the bathroom either to escape an argument or to escape the gun.

Speaking outside Pretoria Magistrates' Court, Pistorius' coach Ampie Louw said the athlete was heartbroken by his girlfriend's death, telling reporters: "For me, it's tough to see that. You cannot reach out, sit next to him and say sorry man, this is a terrible accident..."

He said if Pistorius was granted bail, his training would resume, although he will not compete. Sports giant Nike has suspended its contract with the runner.

"I think that (training) will be a very good thing to do, I think just to get his mind clear," Louw added.

"The sooner he can start with a bit of work, the better."

He said it was unlikely the sports star would flee, if given bail, adding: "He is not going to run anywhere so why not give the guy bail? He must stand trial, and let's do that and get the truth out of it."

Pistorius' defence argued on Thursday he was too famous to flee if released on bail.

The case saw another twist on Thursday as the lead investigator was replaced after he was charged with seven counts of attempted murder in a case that had previously been dropped.

Hilton Botha is due to appear in court with two other police officers in May, accused of firing shots at a minibus which had seven people inside in October 2011.

Summing up for Pistorius on Thursday, defence advocate Barry Roux said poor-quality evidence by Mr Botha had exposed disastrous shortcomings in the state's case.

He said he had been selective with what he said and determined to "bolster the state's case", but could not refute Pistorius' version of what happened, which suggested he was desperate to save her life.

He said there would be widespread shock if the star was not released on bail.