Lead Investigator in Oscar Pistorius Case Facing Attempted Murder Charges

By: CBS/AP Email
By: CBS/AP Email

(CBS/AP) PRETORIA, South Africa - Prosecutors reinstated attempted murder charges against the policeman leading the investigation into Oscar Pistorius, and authorities are deciding Thursday whether to drop the detective from the case against the Olympic athlete.

South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority acknowledged that the timing of the attempted murder charges against detective Hilton Botha was "totally weird," and it was a decision for police and not prosecutors whether to take him off the case, spokeswoman Bulewa Makeke said.

Botha testified Wednesday that nothing in Pistorius' account of the fatal Valentine's Day shooting of his girlfriend contradicted what police had discovered. That testimony in the double amputee's bail hearing marked a setback for the prosecution.

Botha was summoned by the magistrate on Thursday after police said charges were reinstated against him in connection with a 2011 shooting incident, in which he and two other officers allegedly fired at a minibus.

"Is he going to be dropped from the case? I don't know. I think the right thing would be for him to be dropped," Makeke said. "Obviously there will be consultations between the two (police and prosecutors) to determine what is the best course of action."

Magistrate Desmond Nair questioned Botha over delays in processing records from phones found in 26-year-old Pistorius' house following the killing of 29-year-old Reeva Steenkamp. Prosecutors charged Pistorius with premeditated murder. Pistorius said he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder.

Botha also testified Thursday that he investigated a 2009 complaint against Pistorius by a woman who claimed the athlete had assaulted her. He said that Pistorius had not hurt her and that the woman had actually injured herself when she kicked a door at Pistorius' home.

The chief prosecutor, Gerrie Nel, said in court Thursday that they were not aware that the charges against Botha were recently reinstated when he testified against Pistorius. Police said Botha and two other police officers fired at a minibus they were trying to stop and will appear in court in May to face seven counts of attempted murder.

Pistorius' defense team on began to pick apart the state's case against him on Thursday.

"The poor quality of the evidence offered by investigative officer Botha exposed the disastrous shortcomings of the state's case," Barry Roux, Pistorius' lead defense lawyer, said Thursday.

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