Oscar Pistorius arrives at court to face murder charge

PRETORIA — South African athlete Oscar Pistorius was wearing a black suit on Friday morning as he was led by police officers to the courthouse where he is to face a murder charge after his girlfriend was found shot dead in his apartment in Pretoria.

The courtroom was packed with observers, including members of the international media, with the death of model Reeva Steenkamp, 29, shocking sports fans around the world.

Pistorius, 26, was moved in the morning from a police station where he spent the night in a cell to the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court. The once media-friendly sprinter covered his face with a jacket as the police transferred him.

He was expected to apply for bail, though police have said the state will oppose the application.

Some details on the shooting are likely to emerge in court.

Neighbors said they heard loud noises from Pistorius’ apartment in a secure upmarket complex in the South African capital in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Police arrived to find Steenkamp shot four times, and paramedics declared her dead at the scene.

Beeld newspaper reported, quoting a resident, that police were called to Pistorius’ home two hours before the shooting of Steenkamp after neighbors heard an argument.

However, an early report indicated Pistorius might have mistaken his girlfriend for an intruder.

“He is emotional, but he is keeping up,” lawyer Kenny Oldwage said on Thursday evening.

Relatives of Steenkamp and Pistorius were to be present in the courtroom during the first hearing for the Paralympian sprinter known as “Blade Runner” because he uses carbon fiber prosthetic blades to sprint.

In London last year he became the first double amputee to compete in the Olympic Games. He had previously won numerous gold medals in the Paralympics.

The athlete has numerous sponsorships from brands such as Nike. South African private broadcaster M-Net dropped an advertisement featuring Pistorius after Steenkamp’s death.