Paralympian Oscar Pistorius to return to court over murder of lover

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - South Africa's murder-accused paralympic star Oscar Pistorius will return to court on Tuesday for a scheduled pre-trial hearing while detectives wrap up their investigations.

The case comes up just days after photographs of the blood-spattered murder scene emerged for the first time since he shot his model girlfriend at his upmarket Pretoria home in the early hours of February 14.

The 26-year-old double amputee, known as "Blade Runner" for his trademark carbon fibre prosthetic limbs, is charged with murdering Ms Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day. Pistorius claimed he shot Ms Steenkamp through a locked bathroom door with a gun he kept under his bed after mistaking her for an intruder. But the prosecution will try to prove pre-meditated murder, which carries a maximum life sentence. The 29-year-old model had gunshot wounds to her head, elbow and hip.

Leaked images of the blood-spattered bathroom were first seen by the public on Friday. British news channel Sky News published the graphic images showing a bloodied toilet seat and a pool of blood on the bathroom floor. The door bore two marked bullet holes.

Pistorius, who is out on bail, will personally appear in court, according to one of his lawyers, Kenny Oldwage.

"The case is not likely to go ahead. We will have a postponement," said Mr Oldwage said.

Pistorius, who has described the shooting as a "horrible accident", openly wept on his first day in court three months ago. His lawyers will argue that the murder was not planned and seek a lesser charge of culpable homicide.

Extreme cases of culpable homicide, with proven negligence and recklessness in the killing, attract a maximum sentence of 15 years.

The athlete's arrest sent shock waves throughout the world and put his career to an abrupt halt. He lost lucrative advertising contracts with US sportswear maker Nike and French cosmetic firm Clarins, among others.