South African police said Thursday that the officer leading the investigation into double amputee track star, Oscar Pistorius’s, accused murder case is himself facing seven criminal charges of attempted murder.
The disclosure seemed to present one more setback in the prosecution’s efforts to prevent the court from granting bail to Pistorius this week, New York Times reports.
The prosecution has accused Pistorius, 26, of premeditated murder in the Valentine’s Day killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, 29, a model and law graduate. Pistorius cried openly in court saying he shot and killed Steenkamp accidentally, thinking she was an intruder.
Under cross-examination Wednesday, Detective Hilton Botha, who is the chief investigating the Pistorius case, was forced to acknowledge Pistorius’s version of the shooting death of Steenkamp based on the existing evidence.
Read: Police say Pistorius’s version of shooting consistent with crime scene.
“The poor quality of evidence presented by Botha exposed the disastrous shortcomings in the state’s case,” Pistorius’s defense lawyer, Barry Roux, said on Thursday.
Drama filled the courtroom when the magistrate hearing the case ordered an abrupt and brief suspension because of an unexplained “threat to the court.” The case was later adjourned until Friday.
When the bail hearing resumed Thursday, Pistorius’s fourth court appearance since the Feb. 14 shooting, Chief Prosecutor Gerrie Nel began by acknowledging the attempted murder charges against Botha but said prosecutors did not realize the case had been reinstated when Botha testified against Pistorius on Wednesday.
Police brigadier Neville Malila said Botha was set to appear in court in May facing attempted murder charges relating to an episode in October 2011, when Botha and two other police officers were accused of firing at a minivan carrying seven people.
“Botha and two other policemen allegedly tried to stop a minibus taxi with seven people. They fired shots,” Brigadier Malila said.
The charges were initially dropped but were reinstated on Feb. 4, “Way before the issue of Pistorius” or the shooting death of Steenkamp “came to light,” Medupe Simasiku, a spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority said Thursday.
The decision whether Botha will be replaced lays with the police, not the prosecutors.
Nel went on to assail Pistorius’s actions the morning of the shooting when the athlete said he did not realize Steenkamp was no longer in bed as he rose to investigate the supposed intruder, shouting to her to call police.
“You want to protect her, but you don’t even look at her. You don’t even ask: Reeva, are you alright?” Nel said. “His version is so improbable.”
Pistorius claims it was dark and he believed Reeva was still in bed.
Defense lawyer Roux said she may have locked the toilet door after hearing Pistorius call out that an intruder was in the house.
Pistorius is one of the world’s most renowned athletes, whose distinctive carbon-fiber running blades inspired the nickname ‘Blade Runner.’ He became a global Paralympic champion and the first Paralympic sprinter to compete against able-bodied runners in the 2012 London Olympics.