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Posts tagged ‘Bail’

419: Court Orders Suspect Fred Ajudua To Remain In Prison Till End Trial.


Fred Ajudua and wife
By SaharaReporters, New York

The application for bail by 419 kingpin, Fred Ajudua, was hurled overboard today by Justice Olubunmi Oyewole, who ordered him to remain in Kirikiri Maximum Prison until his trial is over.

Mr. Oyewole said Ajudua’s plea was not convincing enough, and ruled that the previous bail granted to him in 2005 could not be restored because he had taken advantage of the opportunity and fled.  Mr. Ajudua disappeared after the judge granted him that privilege, re-emerging only after he was detained again this year.

As his case re-opened, Mr. Ajudua immediately asked the court to suspend proceedings on order for him to return to India for treatment of what he presented as a kidney problem, but when that application failed, he filed the bail application that was denied today.

“I am not persuaded that the applicant will present himself if the previous bail is restored or if he gets a fresh one,” the judge said.

Describing Mr. Ajudua’s claim that he required to frequently travel to India on account of his kidney as unconvincing, the judge pointed out that there had been no report whatsoever from prison doctors about Ajudua’s ill-health since he was remanded there.

On the contrary, the judge commented on how robust Mr. Ajudua appeared in court since he was remanded.

Justice Oyewole promised accelerated hearing of the case, directing prison officers to ensure Mr. Ajudua is promptly taken to the hospital should there be any exigency.

Trial will continue on July 8.

Lagos Speaker, Ikuforiji Re-Arraigned.


Lagos Speaker, Adeyemi Ikuforiji
By Akin Kuponiyi

Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, and his Personal Assistant, Oyebode Alade Atoyebi were Monday re-arrianged on a 54-count criminal charge bordering on money laundering.

The re-arraignment was sequel to the retirement of the former judge, Justice Okechukwu Okeke, who was presiding over the case.

In lieu of the retirement of the judge, the case was re-assigned to Justice Ibrahim Buba.

Consequently, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, prosecuting counsel, Chief Godwin Obla amended the former 20-count charge and substituted it with a 54-count charge.

In the new charge, the accused speaker and his personnal assistant were alleged to have transacted business to the tune of N518 million without going through any financial institution between 2010 and 2011, and thereby committed an offence contrary to Money Laundering Act.

The Speaker and his aide pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Their lawyer, Mr. Tayo Oyetibo, SAN, leading two other senior lawyers, Tunde Akinrinmisi and Abiodun Onidare, told the court that they were cautious not to file application for bail because the accused persons were already on bail.

But the presiding judge, Justice Buba, said that he is not bound to the previous bail and therefore asked Oyetibo to move an application for bail.

Oyetibo said the speaker was on bail on self recognition, while the Clerk of Lagos State House of Assembly stood as surety for the second accused person.

In his reaction, Chief Obla said he is not opposing the bail application, but that what he is after is that the trial of the case should continue, therefore, leaving the issue of the bail to the discretion of the court.

In his ruling for the application for bail, Justice Buba granted them bail in the sum of N5 billion with two sureties in like sum.

The two sureties must file affidavit of means while the accused must sign an undertaking of coming to court regularly.

The bail condition must be perfected before 48 hours and the two accused will not be remanded in prison custody.

However, failure to perfect bail conditions before 48 hours will attract a bench warrant being issued against them.

However, Onidare and Akinrinmisi urged the court to vary the bail conditions.

In acceding to their request, Justice Buba reduced the bail from N5 billion to N1 billion.

Thereafter, the case was adjourned till 25 September for trial to commence.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Ex-Lagos Deputy Governor Wanted For N130m Fraud – PM News, Lagos.


Former Lagos Deputy Gov. Alhaja Sinatu Ojikutu
By PM News, Lagos

Alhaja Sinatu Ojikutu, former deputy governor of Lagos state has been declared wanted by the Police Special Fraud Unit (SFU), in Lagos, over an alleged fraud of N130 million.

Mrs. Ngozi Isintume-Agu, DSP, spokesperson of the unit said in a statement that Sinatu was wanted along with her son, Samson Ojikutu, who is now in the United States of America.

“We are investigating a case of obtaining the sum of N130 million by false representation perpetrated by one Alhaja Sinatu Ojikutu and her son Mr Samson Ojikutu.

“Upon a petition from the DIG ‘D’ Department to the Commissioner of Police SFU, the petitioner alleged that in September, 2011, the suspects conspired and sold a parcel of land at Plot 24, Block 4, situated at Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos for the sum of N130 million.

“The petitioner claimed he paid the said amount into the former deputy governor’s account with the Union Bank in tranches. He further stated that after payment, he requested for title document.

“Alhaja Ojikutu procured an affidavit of support to back her fraudulent claim, a police crime extract and a publication in the Vanguard Newspaper of 18th October 2011, all purporting to evidence loss of the original documents of title to the land.

“The petitioner believed her because of her personality as a former deputy governor of Lagos State.

“The bubble busted when the complainant commenced development on the land and was on the verge of completion when the real owner of the land surfaced.

“It was discovered that the land the suspect sold does not belong to her. She actually sold Plot 23, Block 4, while Plot 24, Block 4, already has a property on it. Investigation revealed that the land she sold belong to one Mr Afolabi.

“It was also discovered that Plot 24, Block 4, which actually belonged to late Samson Adebisi Ojikutu Snr., the suspect’s husband, who died in 2008, was sold by him in 1995, and the suspect was a life witness and appended her signature to the sale of the land.

“The suspect further perpetrated the crime by alleging that the original C of O to the property was missing and swore an affidavit which enabled her obtain a Police Report and Memorandum of Loss.

“She also put up an advert in newspapers that the original C of O was lost, whereas the original C of O was with the Hallmark Homes, the buyer of the property, “ Isintumen-Agu said.

“The suspect and her son were parties to the sale of the land and both signed the agreement given to the complainant and obtained the sum of N130 million from him.

“She admitted the crime but confessed that it was a genuine mistake of plot identification. She refunded the sum of N50 million to the complainant and promised to refund the balance as soon as she disposed her two properties she put up for sale.

“She also confessed that she had injected the complainant’s money in her business. She equally made an undertaking for payment plan drawn between September, 2012 and November 2012, but defaulted due to lack of fund, “ the spokesperson said.

Isintumen-Agu said that the suspect was not ready to pay the balance of the money, adding that she had jumped police bail and had been elusive.

She said that the unit was putting in frantic efforts for the re-arrest of the former deputy governor, calling those with useful information about her to report to the Commissioner of Police, SFU.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

 

Nigeria:Drug Barons Devise Strategy To Evade Jail; 110 Accused Persons Jump Bail.


NDLEA officers
By SaharaReporters, New York

An investigation by SaharaReporters has revealed what one insider called an increasing boom in Nigeria’s hard drug business, with serious lapses in the prosecution of suspects. “It is well known that a cartel operates within the courts, the prisons and at the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency to assist drug convicts to evade jail terms,” said a judicial source who spoke extensively on the issue.

Recent media exposure of the activities of the cartel led to the inauguration of a panel headed by Justice Gilbert Obanya and charged with examining the activities of the anti-drug agency. However, a source said the cartel succeeded in killing the report of the Obanya panel, using contacts in high places.

Emboldened by the ease with which they squelched the Obanya report, Nigeria’s major drug barons have devised new strategies to get away with their crimes. They have used a combination of bribes, blackmail and threats to frustrate their prosecution and avoid jail terms.

The crisis was dramatized when Justice Ibrahim N. Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos, assumed duties in 2012. The judge was shocked to discover that more than one hundred accused drug barons granted bail on liberal terms by Justice Liman had jumped bail. Our investigation revealed that the situation was the same in several other courts.

Upset by the situation, the judge has repeatedly scolded the NDLEA in court. He has also issued several orders to the agency to re-arrest suspects, but to no avail.

“The latest tactics by these big shot drug dealers is to contract special defense lawyers to handle their cases,” said another source within the judiciary. He added: “These big name lawyers know the judges who are favorable and those that are tough. They then use dubious court officials to manipulate and make sure that their client’s case is assigned to a favorable court.”

According to our sources, the notorious judges then grant bail to the suspects on liberal terms, with the stipulation that the NDLEA must verify the sureties. “Within the NDLEA organization, the job of verifying sureties is done by the same group of people who would endorse any arrangement made by the defense lawyers,” one source said. He said such arrangements enabled drug barons to continue to thrive.

Another source confirmed the scenario. He added that Justice Buba’s no-nonsense approach changed the game and made life tough for drug crime bosses.

“Now, the Honorable Justice Buba’s court is avoided by defense counsel like the plague,” he said.

Two sources inside the NDLEA accused the agency’s chairman, Amadu Giade, of failed leadership. One source said Mr. Giade was indifferent to the acts of corruption and collusion with drug dealers that go on inside the agency. “He appears to take pleasure only in attending international meetings,” said one source. “He has turned a blind eye to the state of affairs at the NDLEA.”

The other NDLEA source claimed that Mr. Giade has come up with no response to the problems at the agency because of sheer incompetence. “The fact of the matter is that, until a competent, knowledgeable and highly disciplined appointee is brought in, the drug war will continue to be a sham,” said the source.

Pistorius bought, collected guns in Olympic year.


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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — In his Olympic year, Oscar Pistoriussteadily became an avid firearms collector, joining a gun-collecting club and purchasing a collection of firearms that included a .500 Magnum pistol dubbed by its manufacturer as “the most powerful production revolver in the world” and a civilian version of a military assault rifle.

At the end of 2012, in the first blush of his romance with Reeva Steenkamp, the model he later shot and killed, Pistorius got deeper into his hobby. It was known that Pistorius liked guns but only now, from Associated Press interviews with other collectors, is it becoming clear the extent to which he became a dedicated firearms aficionado in the 12 months before he shot Steenkamp.

The track star not only applied for licenses to own more guns, but actually bought them, too, according to John Beare, vice chairman of the Lowveld Firearm Collectors Association which accepted Pistorius as a paid-up member last April. He and Pistorius were introduced at a Johannesburg hotel in January 2012, and it was there that Beare first explained to the athlete and some of his friends how to become certified collectors.

Had he not become a collector, Pistorius would under South African law have been limited to a maximum of four firearms for self-defense, of which only two could have been handguns, according to Johannesburg attorney Martin Hood, who specializes in firearms law.

Carvel Webb, chairman of the National Arms and Ammunition Collectors Confederation of South Africa, an umbrella group for the country’s 2,000 approved private collectors including Pistorius, said that in the wake of Steenkamp’s killing his group will now verify that Pistorius fulfilled the necessary requirements to be accepted as a collector and a decision in January to let him start collecting semi-automatic rifles.

“We will review all of those just to see if we are happy with it,” Webb said.

Pistorius made no secret of his passion for firearms. Reporters who visited him at home in Pretoria, the capital, saw the pistol he kept by his bed and was licensed to own. He practiced at firing ranges both in South Africa and in Europe where he trained for the London Games. But apparently less well-known was his involvement with gun collectors to start building a firearms collection.

Beare said he twice observed Pistorius shoot at firing ranges and also at a clay pigeon shoot, but saw nothing to suggest he could be a menace with a gun.

“His safety was good,” Beare told the AP. “He wouldn’t do anything irrational with a firearm, because then I would have nailed him immediately.”

Pistorius says he mistook his girlfriend Steenkamp for a home intruder and shot her while she was in his bathroom toilet, firing through the closed door. Pistorius’ license for the 9 mm pistol was issued on Sept. 10, 2010, according to the South African Police Service’s National Firearms Center. It was registered for self-defense

Prosecutors have charged Pistorius with premeditated murder for killing Steenkamp with three of four shots fired in the early hours of Feb. 14.

“I had no reason to believe that there was anything wrong, that he could have a dark side, that there could be something wrong,” said Beare.

However, Roberto Siriu, president of the Tolmezzo shooting range in northeast Italy, said Pistorius did not seem to him to be well-trained with firearms.

“No, I don’t think so. He didn’t give me that impression,” Siriu told the AP.

Pistorius shot at Tolmezzo during breaks from athletic training in the nearby town of Gemona. In November 2011, Pistorius posted a photo of himself firing a rifle at Tolmezzo, with the words: “Had a 96% headshot over 300m from 50shots! Bam!”

Last June, seven weeks before he made history by running at the London Games, Pistorius tweeted that he was going back to Tolmezzo to shoot vintage rifles, adding: “Amped to the max! Yeaaah boi!!”

Gun collecting is regulated by South Africa’s stringent Firearms Control Act. Pistorius had to explain to his collecting association, both in writing and in interviews, what types of firearms he wanted to collect and why.

Beare said he and two other association members interviewed Pistorius in June or July 2012, shortly before he became the first double-amputee Olympic runner.

“He was still budding (as a collector) at that stage. He had done his research on it and he was interested in American firearms,” Beare said.

The association certified Pistorius as a beginner collector, Beare said. Pistorius bought two Smith & Wesson revolvers and three shotguns and sent photos of the firearms and their serial numbers to the association, as required, Beare said.

But Pistorius couldn’t take actual physical possession of his firearms because he didn’t have police-issued licenses for them. So the weapons were kept for safekeeping by a gun dealer, Beare said. At firing ranges, Pistorius used other people’s guns, he added.

Pistorius eventually applied for the licenses in January, according to the National Firearms Center. It listed his weapons as:

—A Smith & Wesson model 500. With a caliber of .500 Magnum, it is called “the most powerful production revolver in the world” by its manufacturer in Springfield, Massachusetts. “A hunting handgun for any game animal walking,” the company’s website says. Pistorius was “quite fascinated” with that particular weapon, Beare said.

—A Smith & Wesson .38-caliber revolver.

—Three shotguns: A Mossberg, a Maverick and a Winchester, all American makes.

—A Vektor .223-caliber rifle.

The current status of those applications is unclear. Firearms Center officials said after Pistorius killed Steenkamp that the six license applications were sent back to a Johannesburg police station to be refilled, but the reason for that wasn’t given.

For civilian collectors, the Vektor is the closest they can get to the R-series assault rifles used by South Africa’s military. For civilian use, the rifle is modified to make it only semi-automatic. Because it is classed as a restricted weapon in South Africa, Pistorius had to upgrade his status from a beginner to a more serious collector.

As part of that upgrading process, Pistorius was interviewed again by his collectors’ club this January, Beare said. It accepted the runner’s explanation that he wanted to collect weapons linked to South African military history, Beare said. He said that entitled Pistorius to start collecting not just South African firearms but also Russian-made guns that guerrilla groups have used over the years to fight South African forces.

Pistorius bought the Vektor around December, and sent the serial number and a photo to the association, Beare added.

Collecting firearms can be expensive. Vektors sell for US$1,100 to US$1,500 on South African gun-resale websites. Pistorius’ athletic success and sponsorships have made him wealthy. Beare said he understood that Pistorius was planning to build on his collection over time.

“You start small and then you start growing,” he said.

Some have questioned why Pistorius felt he needed such a variety of weapons and whether the association should have certified him.

Andre Pretorius, president of the Professional Firearm Trainers Council, a regulatory body for South African firearms instructors, said he struggles to see how pistols, shotguns and a semi-automatic rifle could be regarded as a coherent collection.

“The makes differ, the models differ and generally a collection needs to have a theme,” said Pretorius. “I don’t see there’s a theme here.”

But Webb, of the collectors’ confederation, disagreed.

“There was a logic,” Webb told the AP. “He’s got three approved areas of interest.”

___

AP Sports Writer Andrew Dampf in Rome contributed to this report.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By JOHN LEICESTER | Associated Press

EFCC Press Release: Ex-Governor Audu’s Son Gets Bail.


 

By Wilson Uwujaren

A Federal Capital Territory High Court, presided over by Justice Abubakar Sadiq Umar on Thursday 28 February, 2013 granted bail to Mustapha Audu, son of former governor of Kogi state, Prince Abubakar Audu who is standing trial alongside his wife, Zahra Audu and their company, Constructor Guild Limited over an N18 million land scam.

 

The couple who were arraigned on Tuesday 26 February, 2013 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC were alleged to have falsely obtained the sum of N18 million from one Nike Kolawole under the pretence that they will get her a four- bedroom house at Katampe Extension, Abuja; and another property at Caemly Estate, Idu Sabo, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Counsel to the accused, Okechuku Ajunwa prayed the court to grant the first accused person bail since because his first alleged offence he is eligible for it.

However, the prosecuting counsel, Samuel Ugwuegbulam, opposed the bail application. He said though the offence for which the accused was charged is  eligible for bail, it nonetheless carries a sentence of not less seven years which could be a motivation to jump bail.

“I urge this honourable court to fix a short date for trial so that the case will be heard and justice be served in the shortest possible time. The EFCC has only three witnesses to present which can all be heard the same day.”  He said.

The presiding judge having heard the arguments of counsel, granted the accused bail in the sum of N5million (five million naira) with two sureties in like sum.

He ordered that the sureties must be residents within the jurisdiction of the court and one of them must be a federal civil servant not below the rank of level 10.

Mustapha Audu’s wife, Zahra was on the day of her arraignment magnanimously allowed by the judge to enjoy the administrative bail granted her by the EFCC owing to her status as a nursing mother.

Trial date has been set for 15th April, 2013.

Wilson Uwujaren
Ag. Head, Media & Publicity
28th February, 2013

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Pistorius’ brother facing culpable homicide charge.


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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The brother of Olympic star Oscar Pistorius is facing a culpable homicide charge for a 2008 road death, compounding problems for the family after the double-amputee runner was charged with premeditated murder in the Feb. 14 shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Lawyer Kenny Oldwage said in a statement that Carl had been involved in a car accident “in which a woman motorcyclist sadly lost her life.” He said that “there is no doubt that Carl is innocent and the charge will be challenged in court.”

Carl Pistorius was already in court last Thursday, as his brother Oscar was facing a bail hearing, and will appear again at the end of next month.

Oscar Pistorius was released on bail Friday and his brother Carl was seen driving into the home of their uncle Arnold early Sunday in Waterkloof, an affluent suburb of Pretoria, the nation’s capital, where Oscar is now staying.

The problems surrounding his older brother Carl are the latest twist in a case that has transfixed South Africa and much of the world. Sunday’s revelation of the culpable homicide charge immediately created a stir.

“It’s also doubly sad because it’s involved with Oscar and his brother and all the family — so they have double sort of trouble. So, not good,” said Johannesburg resident Jim Plester.

Oldwage said that “Carl deeply regrets the accident” and that a blood test showed he was not drunk at the time. “It was a tragic road accident after the deceased collided with Carl’s car.”

He said the charges had initially been dropped, only to be reinstated later.

It was the second time the Pistorius case was weighed down by additional charges.

South African police appointed a new chief investigator last Thursday, replacing a veteran detective after unsettling revelations that the officer was charged with seven counts of attempted murder.

Oscar Pistorius was charged with premeditated murder, but the athlete says he killed his girlfriend accidentally, opening fire after mistaking her for an intruder in his home.

On Saturday, the family took steps to lower its profile on social media after someone hacked into the Twitter account of Carl. They cancelled all the social media sites for both Oscar’s brother and his sister Aimee.

Carl has always been close to Oscar but was notably absent when their uncle Arnold, flanked by Oscar’s sister Aimee, read out a first reaction to the shooting on Feb. 17, even though he was also on the premises.

The three-story house where Pistorius is staying with his aunt and uncle sits on a hill with a sweeping view of Pretoria. It has a large swimming pool and an immaculate garden.

The character of Pistorius also continued to take center stage. For many, it mirrors his public appearances as an articulate, well-spoken advocate for Paralympic athletes facing hardship. Witness statements backing up Oscar Pistorius as a down-to-earth guy were presented at the hearing.

Others have described him as a reckless risk taker who has been in trouble before, such as a boat accident in 2009 which put him into hospital intensive care unit.

On Sunday, a South African man who said Steenkamp had stayed at his home since September, described Pistorius as moody and impatient. Cecil Myers, whose daughter was close friends with Steenkamp, said in an interview published Sunday in the City Press newspaper, that Pistorius will have the killing of Steenkamp on his conscience. “I hope he gets a long sentence. Gets what he deserves,” said Myers.

“Very nice and charming to us when they started dating,” said Myers. Myers said Pistorius initially used to come into the house but later just dropped Steenkamp off and picked her up when they began to date steadily, and he described the change as a lack of respect.

Myers recalled their first date and told the newspaper: “After that he wouldn’t leave her alone. He kept pestering her, phoning and phoning and phoning her.”

According to Myers, Steenkamp “told me he pushed her a bit into a corner. She felt caged in.”

Myers said he told Pistorius “not to force himself on her. Back off.” He said that after initially agreeing with him, it appeared that Pistorius soon took no heed.

Myers declined to respond to a request for more information from Associated Press.

Pistorius was born without fibula bones due to a congenital defect and his legs were amputated when he was 11 months old. He has run on carbon-fiber blades and was originally banned from competing against able-bodied peers because many argued that his blades gave him an unfair advantage. He was later cleared to compete. He is a multiple Paralympic medalist, and won a silver medal at the 2011 Daegu world championships with South Africa’s 4×400 relay team. But he failed to win a medal at the London Olympics, where he ran in the 400 meter race and the 4×400 relay race.

___

AP Sports Writer Gerald Imray contributed from Pretoria. AP Writer Christopher Torchia contributed from Johannesburg.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By RAF CASERT | Associated Press

Grief besets family of Pistorius’ slain girlfriend.


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  • Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius' uncle, Arnold Pistorius, speaks to journalists at the end of the bail hearing at the magistrate court in Pretoria, South Africa, Friday, Feb. 22, 2013. Oscar Pistorius was granted bail in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court on Friday and will return to court June, 4, 2013 to face a charge of pre-meditated murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)View PhotoOlympic athlete Oscar Pistorius’ …
  • Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius' sister Aimee Pistorius looks on during his bail hearing at the magistrate court in Pretoria, South Africa, Friday, Feb. 22, 2013. Pistorius was granted bail in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court on Friday. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)View PhotoOlympic athlete Oscar Pistorius’ …

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Far from the courtroom drama that has gripped South Africa, the family of Oscar Pistorius’ slain girlfriend has struggled with its own private deluge of grief, frustration and bewilderment.

The victim’s relatives also harbor misgivings about efforts by the Olympian’s family to reach out to them with condolences.

Pistorius, meanwhile, spent Saturday at his uncle’s home in an affluent suburb of Pretoria, the South African capital, after a judge released him on bail following days of testimony that transfixed South Africa and much of the world. He was charged with premeditated murder in the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine’s Day, but the athlete says he killed her accidentally, opening fire after mistaking her for an intruder in his home.

“We are extremely thankful that Oscar is now home,” his uncle,Arnold Pistorius, said in a statement that also acknowledged the law must run its course. “What happened has changed our lives irrevocably.”

The Pistorius family took steps to lower its profile on social media after someone hacked into the Twitter account of his older brother, Carl, family spokesman Janine Hills said.

“Carl did not tweet this afternoon, out of respect to Oscar and Reeva,” Hills said in a statement. “We are busy cancelling all the social media sites for both Oscar’s brother and his sister.”

Mike Steenkamp, Reeva’s uncle, told The Associated Press that the family of the double-amputee athlete initially did not send condolences or try to contact the bereaved parents, but had since sought to reach out in what he described as a poorly timed way. After Pistorius was released on bail in what amounted to a victory for the defense, Arnold Pistorius said the athlete’s family was relieved but also in mourning “with the family” of Reeva Steenkamp.

“Everybody wants to jump up with joy,” Mike Steenkamp said, speculating on the mood of Pistorius’ family after the judge’s decision. “I think it was just done in the wrong context, completely.”

A South African newspaper, the Afrikaans-language Beeld, quoted the mother of Reeva Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model, law school graduate and participant in a television reality show, as saying the family had received a bouquet of flowers and a card from the Pistorius family.

“Yes, but what does it mean? Nothing,” June Steenkamp said, according to the Saturday edition of Beeld. She also said Pistorius’ family, including sister Aimee, a somber presence on the bench behind the Olympian during his court hearings in the past week, must be “devastated” and had done nothing wrong.

“They are not to blame,” June Steenkamp said. According to Beeld, she said she had hoped to plan a wedding for her daughter one day.

In an affidavit, 26-year-old Oscar Pistorius said he was “absolutely mortified” by the death of “my beloved Reeva,” and he frequently sobbed in court during the several days during which his bail application was considered. However, prosecutor Gerrie Nel, suggested in a scathing criticism that Pistorius was actually distraught because his vaunted career was now in peril and he was in grave trouble with the law.

“It doesn’t matter how much money he has and how good his legal team is, he will have to live with his conscience if he allows his legal team to lie for him,” Barry Steenkamp, Reeva’s father, told Beeld.

“But if he is telling the truth, then perhaps I can forgive him one day,” the father said. “If it didn’t happen the way he said it did, he must suffer, and he will suffer … only he knows.”

Barry Steenkamp suffered “heavy trauma” at the loss of his daughter and his remarks to the newspaper partly reflect how he is working through it, said his brother, Mike Steenkamp.

Steenkamp was cremated in a funeral ceremony on Feb. 19 in her family’s hometown of Port Elizabeth on South Africa’s southern coast. Mike Steenkamp delivered a statement about the family’s grief to television cameras, at one point breaking down in tears.

The three-story house where Pistorius is staying with his aunt and uncle lies on a hill with a view of Pretoria. It has a large swimming pool and an immaculate garden.

Pistorius was born without fibula bones due to a congenital defect and had his legs amputated at 11 months. He has run on carbon-fiber blades and was originally banned from competing against able-bodied peers because many argued that his blades gave him an unfair advantage. He was later cleared to compete. He is a multiple Paralympic medalist, but he failed to win a medal at the London Olympics, where he ran in the 400 meter race and on South Africa’s 4×400 relay team.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA | Associated Press

SAfrica police replace top Pistorius investigator.


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  • Investigating officer Hilton Botha sits inside the witness box during the bail hearing for Oscar Pistorius at the magistrate court in Pretoria, South Africa, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority acknowledged that the timing of attempted murder charges against a police detective leading the investigation into Oscar Pistorius is "totally weird" and that he should dropped from the case against the world-famous athlete. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)View PhotoInvestigating officer Hilton Botha …
  • Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius's father Henke Pistorius, right, with daughter Aimee, left, during his bail hearing at the magistrate court in Pretoria, South Africa, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. The lead investigator in the murder case against Pistorius faces attempted murder charges himself over a 2011 shooting, police said Thursday in another potentially damaging blow to the prosecution. Prosecutors said they were unaware of the charges against veteran detective Hilton Botha when they put him on the stand in court to explain why Pistorius should not be given bail in the Valentine's Day shooting death of his girlfriend. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)View PhotoOlympic athlete Oscar Pistorius’s …

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — South African police appointed a new chief investigator Thursday in the Oscar Pistorius murder case, replacing a veteran detective after unsettling revelations that the officer was charged with seven counts of attempted murder.

The sensational twist in the state’s troubled investigation fueled growing public fascination with the case against the double-amputee Olympian, who is charged with premeditated murder in the Valentine’s Day slaying of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius, a sporting icon and source of inspiration to millions until the shooting last week, is backed by a high-powered team of lawyers and publicists. The abruptness of his fall, and its gruesome circumstances, have gripped a global audience and put South Africa’s police and judicial system under the spotlight.

The man at the center of the storm sat in the dock during his bail hearing, mostly keeping his composure in contrast to slumped-over outbursts of weeping on previous days in court. In front ofPistorius, defense lawyer Barry Roux pounced on the apparent disarray in the state’s case, laying out arguments that amounted to a test run for the full trial yet to come.

Roux pointed to what he called the “poor quality” of the state’s investigation and raised the matter of intent, saying Pistorius andSteenkamp had a “loving relationship” and the athlete had no motive to plan her killing.

Pistorius, 26, says he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder when he shot her through a locked bathroom door in his home. Prosecutors believe the shooting happened after the couple got into an argument, and prosecutor Gerrie Nel painted a picture of a man he said was “willing and ready to fire and kill.”

Much of the drama Thursday, however, happened outside the courtroom as South African police scrambled to get their investigation on track.

In a news conference at a training academy, National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega said a senior detective would gather a team of “highly skilled and experienced” officers to investigate the killing of 29-year-old Steenkamp, a model and budding reality TV contestant.

The decision to put police Lt. Gen. Vinesh Moonoo in charge came soon after word emerged that the initial chief investigator, Hilton Botha, is facing attempted murder charges, and a day after he offered testimony damaging to the prosecution.

Botha acknowledged Wednesday in court that nothing in Pistorius’ version of the fatal shooting contradicted what police had discovered, even though there have been some discrepancies. Botha also said that police left a 9 mm slug in the toilet and lost track of allegedly illegal ammunition found in Pistorius’ home.

“This matter shall receive attention at the national level,” Phiyega told reporters after testimony ended in the third day of Pistorius’ bail hearing.

Bulewa Makeke, spokeswoman for South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority, said the attempted murder charges had been reinstated against Botha on Feb. 4. Police say they found out about it after Botha testified in Pistorius’ bail hearing Wednesday.

Botha and two other police officers had seven counts of attempted murder reinstated against them in connection with a 2011 shooting incident in which they allegedly fired shots at a minibus they were trying to stop.

Makeke indicated the charges were reinstated because more evidence had been gathered. She said the charge against Botha was initially dropped “because there was not enough evidence at the time.”

Pistorius’ main sponsor, Nike, meanwhile, suspended its contract with the multiple Paralympic champion, following eyewear manufacturer Oakley’s decision to suspend its sponsorship. Nike said in a statement on its website: “We believe Oscar Pistorius should be afforded due process and we will continue to monitor the situation closely.”

On Thursday, Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair asked the defense regarding Pistorius’ bail application: “Do you think there will be some level of shock if the accused is released?”

Defense lawyer Roux responded: “I think there will be a level of shock in this country if he is not released.”

Prosecutor Nel suggested signs of remorse from Pistorius had nothing to do with whether he planned to kill his girlfriend.

“Even if you plan a murder, you plan a murder and shoot. If you fire the shot, you have remorse. Remorse might kick in immediately,” Nel said.

As Nel summed up the prosecution’s case opposing bail, Pistorius began to weep in the crowded courtroom, leading his brother, Carl Pistorius, to reach out and touch his back.

“He (Pistorius) wants to continue with his life like this never happened,” Nel went on, prompting Pistorius, who was crying softly, to shake his head.

“The reason you fire four shots is to kill,” Nel persisted.

Earlier Thursday, Nair questioned Botha over delays in processing records from phones found in Pistorius’ house following the slaying.

“It seems to me like there was a lack of urgency,” the magistrate said.

Botha is to appear in court in May to face seven counts of attempted murder in connection with the minibus shooting incident. He has been quoted in the South African media as denying allegations he was drunk at the time, saying he and the other officers were trying to stop the vehicle and didn’t know there were people inside.

While Botha has been dropped from the Pistorius investigation, he has not been suspended from the police force, Phiyega said, and could still be called by defense lawyers at trial.

Pistorius, wearing the same gray suit, blue shirt and gray tie combination he has worn throughout the bail hearing, stood ramrod straight in the dock, then sat calmly looking at his hands.

Roux said an autopsy showed that Steenkamp’s bladder was empty, suggesting she had gone to the bathroom to use the toilet, rather than fled there to escape an enraged Pistorius, as prosecutors contend.

“The known forensics is consistent” with Pistorius’ statement, Roux said, asking that bail restrictions be eased for his client.

But the prosecutor said Pistorius hadn’t given guarantees to the court that he wouldn’t leave the country if he was facing a life sentence. Nel also stressed that Pistorius shouldn’t be given special treatment.

“‘I am Oscar Pistorius. I am a world-renowned athlete.’ Is that a special circumstance? No,” Nel said. “His version (of the killing) is improbable.”

Nel said the court should focus on the “murder of the defenseless woman.”

Botha testified Thursday that he investigated a 2009 complaint against Pistorius by a woman who said the athlete assaulted her. However, Pistorius did not hurt the woman, who in fact injured herself when she kicked a door at Pistorius’ home, Botha said.

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AP Sports Writer Gerald Imray contributed to this report from Johannesburg

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA and JON GAMBRELL | Associated Press

Oscar Pistorius bail hearing nearing decision.


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PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — The defense and prosecution both completed their arguments Friday in Oscar Pistorius’ bail hearing, with the magistrate soon to rule if the double-amputee athlete can be freed before trial or if he must stay behind bars pending trial in the shooting death of his girlfriend.

The prosecution vehemently opposed bail to Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair.

Pistorius is charged with one count of premediated murder over the Feb. 14 killing of Reeva Steenkamp. He says he accidentally shot her, thinking she was a dangerous intruder inside his home, lurking in a toilet stall off his bedroom.

Pistorius’ hands trembled as he said “good morning, your worship” as the session began in Magistrate’s Court in Pretoria, South Africa’s capital. For the first time in the hearing, two representatives of the Steenkamp family were present in court, sitting behind and to the left of Pistorius in the public gallery.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel called Pistorius’ version that he shotSteenkamp accidentally improbable and argued that Pistorius did not have to have planned the killing for days in advance for it to be premediated.

“He planned it that night when she (Steenkamp) locked herself in (the toilet),” Nel said in response to a question from the magistrate on why Pistorius hadn’t staged a break-in at his home to make his story look more believable. “The fact that we have only one survivor of that tragic night is difficult for the state.”

Pistorius’ defense lawyer, Barry Roux, brought up culpable homicide as a possible charge for the first time in the case when answering questions from the magistrate.

“He did not want to kill Reeva. He had no intent to kill Reeva,” Roux said as Pistorius began weeping again — like he has done for much of his bail hearing.

Roux said it was impossible for Pistorius, as famous as he is and with his prostheses, to escape South Africa before trial.

“Let me tell you how difficult it is for this man to disappear from this world,” Roux said.

Prosecutor Nel earlier countered that everyone, whether disabled or famous or otherwise different from the majority, should be treated equally under the law. Nel noted that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is famous but is now holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden to face sex-related charges.

Pistorius’ longtime coach Ampie Louw had said before proceedings began that he is considering putting his runner back in training if he is granted bail to allow him to “get his mind kind of clear.”

Louw said he realizes that the Olympic athlete might not be emotionally ready to give any thought to running.

“The change is that he is heartbroken, that is all,” Louw said in the courtroom, surrounded by reporters and television cameras. “For me it is tough to see that. Not to be able to reach out and sit next to him and say ‘Sorry, man, it was a terrible accident.’ But I cannot do it, I must just sit here in court and that’s all.

“The sooner he can start working the better.” said Louw, who was the person who convinced the double amputee to take up track as a teenager a decade ago.

Nair will decide if Pistorius can be freed with conditions or if he is held until trial. Pistorius faces the sternest bail conditions in South Africa because of the seriousness of the murder charge, meaning his defense lawyers have to prove there is an “exceptional” reason for him to be freed.

He has been held at a police station in Pretoria since last week, but suspects who are denied bail are typically held in a prison.

Roux argued on Thursday that the evidence backs Pistorius’ statement that he shot through a toilet door at his home because he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder, killing her by accident.

“I think there will be a level of shock in this country if he is not released (on bail),” Roux said in court.

Opposing bail, Nel argued that Pistorius was too willing to shoot. The prosecution says Pistorius planned to kill his 29-year-old girlfriend, a model and budding reality TV star, after an argument in the early hours of Valentine’s Day.

“The reason you fire four shots is to kill,” Nel said.

Louw said he might put Pistorius — who overcame the amputation of his lower legs as a baby to compete at last year’s London Olympics — back on a morning and afternoon training routine if he is freed, believing it might help him to be able to run track again.

“You must give him space,” the coach said.

___

AP Sports Writer Gerald Imray contributed to this report from Johannesburg.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By JON GAMBRELL and CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA | Associated Press

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