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Pistorius murder trial set for March 2014

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Nairobi, Aug 19 (EFE).- A South African court on Monday set a March 2014 date for Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius' trial on charges he murdered his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp.

The 26-year-old athlete, who made history at the August 2012 London Games as the first double leg amputee to participate in the Olympics, was present for Monday's hearing in Pretoria Magistrate's Court.

Steenkamp, who would have been 30 on Monday, was fatally shot last Valentine's Day at Pistorius' home in an exclusive gated community in Pretoria.

Pistorius acknowledges firing four times through his bathroom door and killing Steenkamp, but says he mistook her for an intruder.

The indictment prosecutors presented Monday says Pistorius fired his weapon "with the intention to kill a person" and cites witness accounts of hearing a woman scream both before and after the shooting started.

Prosecutors are characterizing the crime as premeditated murder.

Magistrate Desmond Nair began the hearing by asking Pistorius if he was well.

"Under the circumstances, ja (yes)," the runner replied.

The murder trial is scheduled to begin March 3, 2014, in North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. South Africa does not have trial by jury, so it will be up to a judge to decide Pistorius' innocence or guilt.

A conviction could bring a sentence of life in prison with possibility of parole after 25 years.

Pistorius, who was accompanied to Monday's court hearing by siblings Carl and Aimee, remains free on bail.

The South African sprinter, known as the "Blade Runner" for the pair of carbon-fiber prosthetics he wears below both knees during his races, captured the world's attention with his performance at last year's Olympics.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/agencia-efe/130819/pistorius-murder-trial-set-march-2014