Pistorius trial scheduled to begin Monday

March 2, 2014 at 3:37 PM
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PRETORIA, South Africa, March 2 (UPI) -- South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius will face a possible sentence of life in prison if he is convicted of murder in the death of his girlfriend last year.

South Africa's so called trial of the century is scheduled to begin Monday in Pretoria with live television coverage.

Pistorius, 27, the amputee track star "Blade Runner," hero to South Africans and worldwide to the physically disabled, shot and killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, 29, a model and law school graduate, in his Pretoria home in February 2013. Pistorius has said he mistook her for a burglar, but prosecutors contend it was murder.

A judge's decision last week will allow cameras in the court room, a first for South African law, although any testimony from Pistorious or from witnesses who do not consent will not be televised, CNN reported Sunday.

Pistorius faces one charge of premeditated murder, a firearms charge associated with her death and two gun indictments from previous incidents. The murder charge carries a mandatory life sentence in South Africa.

Prosecutors contend Pistorius shot Steenkamp after the two had an argument, and Pistorius fired a flurry of shots through the door of a bathroom where Steenkamp was hiding.

The first round of the trial is expected to last three weeks, CNN said.

Instead of a jury, a process abolished in South Africa in 1969, Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa, the second black woman appointed to South Africa's bench since the country's end of apartheid, will hear the case.

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