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Pistorius brother faces trial over fatal car crash

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The older brother of South African star sprinter Oscar Pistorius -- himself accused of murdering his girlfriend -- has been charged over a deadly road crash five years ago, the family confirmed on Sunday.

"Carl Pistorius, brother of Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, faces charges of culpable homicide after a 2008 road accident in which a woman motorcyclist sadly lost her life," the family said in a statement.

His trial had been due to start last Thursday, a day before his famous brother was granted bail on a charge of premeditated murder for shooting dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day.

Carl Pistorius's case has been adjourned to the end of March, meaning he will likely go on trial before his younger brother, who he closely resembles.

The 28-year-old "deeply regrets" the March 2008 incident, the family said. "It was a tragic road accident after the deceased collided with Carl's car."

Tests showed no alcohol in his blood at the time of the accident in Vanderbijlpark, 60 kilometres (40 miles) south of Johannesburg.

Prosecutors reinstated the charges after they were initially dropped.

Attorney Kenny Oldwage, who also represents Oscar Pistorius, had "no doubt" Carl was innocent, the statement added.

Oscar Pistorius, the 26-year-old double amputee athlete known as "Blade Runner", was released on one million rand ($112,770) bail on Friday. He is due back in court on June 4.

He says he shot dead 29-year-old Steenkamp, a law graduate and cover girl who he had been dating since late last year, after he mistook her for a burglar in his upmarket Pretoria home.

In addition to the bail payment, which experts say is one of the highest ever set in South Africa, Pistorius had to surrender his passports and firearms. He also has to report to police on Mondays and Fridays and is also barred from taking alcohol or drugs.

Carl Pistorius, whose last known job was at an events management company in 2010, was a constant presence in court last week to support his brother during the four-day bail hearing in Pretoria, along with his sister Aimee and father Henke.

When Oscar broke down crying in the dock, Carl would often lean forward and put his hand on his brother's shoulder.

Relatives of Steenkamp have lashed out at the Pistorius family since the killing.

"They have not offered their condolences, nor made a simple phone call to us," her uncle Michael told the City Press newspaper on Sunday, although the Pistorius family did send a bouquet of flowers and a card.

Steenkamp's father also had harsh words for the gold-medallist Paralympian.

"He'll have to live with his conscience. But if he's telling the truth, I may forgive him one day," said Barry Steenkamp in a newspaper interview Saturday.

But "if it didn't happen as he described it, he should suffer. And he will suffer."

Meanwhile, sports physician Jon Patricios told City Press that a substance found in Pistorius's home during a police search was a herbal sexual stimulant.

Police said they had found two boxes of "testosterone" and needles, but the defence countered that it was a legal herbal remedy known as testocompasutium coenzyme.

Athletes are discouraged from using the product, a combination of vitamins and herbal cures partly derived from animal organs, since it may increase their testosterone levels, said Patricios.

But "this is not an anabolic steroid and it is unlikely it will lead to irrational anger," he added.

A prescription may be needed since the drug is administered by injection.

Some athletes use it "to counter exhaustion", according to sports medicine expert Louis Holtzhausen.

The National Prosecuting Authority has said it was awaiting forensic tests to determine what the product is.

The International Paralympic Committee said the athlete -- who became a hero as the first double amputee to compete in the Olympics last year -- was tested twice during the London Paralympics in 2012 and tested negative.

South Africa's Sunday Times newspaper also said a new investigation team had visited Pistorius's house on Friday and would probe his apparent links with a network that used recreational drugs.

Since the shooting, Pistorius's career has come to a halt and he has lost endorsement contracts with Nike, sunglasses maker Oakley and French cosmetics firm Clarins.

Despite his success on the track, he has had a rocky private life with stories of rash behaviour, beautiful women, and a love of guns and fast cars.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130224/pistorius-brother-faces-trial-over-fatal-car-crash-2