Sobbing Pistorius charged with girlfriend’s murder

Updated 15 February 2013
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Sobbing Pistorius charged with girlfriend’s murder

PRETORIA: South African Olympic star Oscar Pistorius broke down in tears in the dock Friday as he was charged with the Valentine’s Day murder of his model girlfriend.
The 26-year-old superstar Paralympian gold medallist wept as Pretoria magistrate Desmond Nair announced a single charge of killing his lover, blonde covergirl Reeva Steenkamp.
The double amputee, an inspirational hero of last year’s London Olympics, sat hunched as the court heard that prosecutors would argue that the murder was premeditated, a charge that could carry a life sentence.
Steenkamp, who was due to appear in a celebrity reality show from this weekend, was shot four times at Pistorius’s upmarket Pretoria home in the early hours of Thursday.
She was shot with his 9mm pistol, suffering wounds to the head and hand and died at the scene.
The Beeld newspaper, which first broke the dramatic news of his arrest, said Friday the shots that killed Steenkamp were fired through a bathroom door but there has been no police confirmation.
Pistorius had been expected to make an application for bail Friday, but the hearing was delayed until Tuesday to allow the defense more time to prepare and he will remain in police custody until then.
Known worldwide as “Blade Runner” because of his carbon fiber prostheses, Pistorius has inspired millions by becoming the first double-amputee to compete alongside able-bodied athletes at the Olympics.
His apparent fall from grace has equally captured the attention of millions around the world, with press from around the world cramming the courtroom to cover events.
“Oscar’s Bloody Valentine” was the headline in South Africa’s most popular tabloid, the Daily Sun.
Police were called to Pistorius’s home at around 4:00 a.m. by neighbors who heard gunshots.
But they poured cold water on initial reports that Pistorius had shot Steenkamp, his girlfriend since late last year, after mistaking her for a burglar.
Pistorius was publicly adored in his native South Africa, but questions had been raised about his colorful private life that was replete with glamorous girlfriends, guns and fast cars.
“Obviously we are shocked,” his father Henke Pistorius told AFP.
Steenkamp, once an FHM cover girl, was described as “the kindest, sweetest human being; an angel on earth,” by Sarit Tomlins of her management agency.
Born in Cape Town, she grew up in Port Elizabeth where she graduated with a degree in law from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
Police have revealed there had been previous allegations of domestic disputes at Pistorius’s home.
“There were always rumors attracted to Oscar Pistorius, but most of them I just put down to him being a celebrity,” said Kyle Wood, a 25-year-old fellow resident of the gated community.
In 2009, Pistorius spent a night in jail after allegedly assaulting a 19-year-old woman at a party.
He has often spoken publicly about his fondness for guns. Last year he told a newspaper he sleeps with a pistol, machine gun, cricket bat and baseball bat for fear of burglars.
There are an estimated 1.5 million gun owners in South Africa, where crime remains a major problem.
Many residents keep weapons at home and equip their houses with electric fences and panic buttons that summon heavily armed guards within minutes.
In November, Pistorius tweeted about arriving home and hearing the washing machine on “and thinking it’s an intruder to go into full combat recon mode into the pantry! waa.”
Pistorius is also known as an adrenaline junkie, with a love of speed reflected in a passion for motorbikes. Four years ago he crashed his boat in a river south of Johannesburg, breaking two ribs, an eye socket and his jaw.
Empty alcohol bottles were found in the boat, but his blood alcohol content was not tested.
Until now his problems off the track had been eclipsed by his athletics success.
The Johannesburg-born athlete won gold in the 4x100m relay and the 400m individual at the Paralympic Games in London. He was triple gold medalist in the Beijing games in 2008.
He was named by Time Magazine last year as one of the world’s 100 most influential people.
Pistorius had both legs amputated below the knee when he was 11-months-old after being born without lower leg bones. But he played sports unhindered while growing up, switching to running after fracturing a knee playing rugby.
Sponsors are now racing to distance themselves from the sprinter.
A South African pay television channel has canned a campaign featuring the runner.
There was no immediate comment from global sports giant Nike on its sponsorship of Pistorius, whom it featured in an advert showing the runner setting off from the starting blocks with the line “I am the bullet in the chamber.”


Dozens of Rohingya come ashore in Indonesia

Updated 6 min 17 sec ago
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Dozens of Rohingya come ashore in Indonesia

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia: About 80 Rohingya in a wooden boat arrived in Indonesia Friday, officials said, the latest batch of the vulnerable minority to come ashore in the world’s biggest Muslim majority nation.
The group landed in Aceh province on Sumatra island, just weeks after dozens of the persecuted Muslim minority from Myanmar came ashore in neighboring Malaysia.
All appeared to be in good condition, according to local police chief Riza Yulianto, who added that it was not clear how long they had been at sea.
“Thank God they’re all healthy even though a few are just children,” he said.
“We have given them food and we are thoroughly checking their health one by one.”
It has been rare for Rohingya migrants to attempt the sea routes south since Thai authorities clamped down on regional trafficking networks in 2015, sparking a crisis across Southeast Asia as large numbers were abandoned at sea.
But there have been concerns desperate migrants might start taking to the high seas again after mainly Buddhist Myanmar launched a new crackdown last year that forced about 700,000 members of the Muslim minority to flee to Bangladesh.
This month, a group including two Rohingya men, aged 28 and 33, a 20-year-old woman, a 15-year-old girl and an eight-year old boy were spotted in a small boat off the coast of southern Thailand and Myanmar, some 325 kilometers (176 miles) from Aceh.
Local Indonesian fishermen took them back to Aceh where they were later taken into custody by immigration officials.
The group said they had been traveling with two dozen other Rohingya but got separated and were stranded at sea for about 20 days.
They had gotten lost with five others who later starved to death and their bodies were thrown overboard, officials said at the time.
In 2015, hundreds of Rohingya came ashore in Aceh, where they were welcomed in the staunchly conservative Islamic province.
Indonesia tends to accept asylum seekers but they are usually barred from working and often spend years in immigration centers.