The 27-year old South African star Oscar Pistorius rose to prominence during the last Olympics in London, where he became the first disabled athlete to compete alongside the best able-bodied colleagues.
The “Blade runner,” as he was nicknamed on account of the prosthesis replacing his lower limbs, was banned in 2008 from competing against able-bodied athletes. Nevertheless, his tenacity and determination to succeed led him to file an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport and to overturn the decision.
In 2012 Pistorius participated at the Olympics in London, becoming an inspiration for millions and showing a beautiful example of what ambition and courage can achieve. His performance broke physical boundaries and changed the meaning of the word “disabled” forever.
The athlete’s accomplishment turned his sport career into a legendary tale that came to an abrupt end last year in the early hours of St. Valentine’s day, when Pistorius was arrested for shooting dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. The latter died after being hit by four bullets that were fired through the toilette door of Pistorius’ house in Pretoria.
Pistorius explained the accident saying that he had fired his gun in the belief that an intruder was in his home. He claimed the gunfire was meant to protect himself and his girlfriend, but investigators think the shooting took place after the couple had an argument.
Prior to the accident, the Olympic star had declared to be terrified by intruders after being the victim of several burglaries. For that reason he used to keep a 9mm gun underneath his bed.
Despite South Africa’s high rate of home invasions that often turn violent, Pistorius was charged with premeditated murder because the investigators are of the opinion that the dynamics of the murder reveals sings of preparation.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel does not believe in the account of the vulnerable and terrified disable that opens fire in the grip of terror. He holds the view that the accused lied about the true facts and regards him as a man “willing and ready to fire and kill.”
To support Mr. Nel’s thesis there is evidence of Postorius’ inveterate passion for guns, which he apparently used in public a couple of years ago, shooting through the roof of a friend’s car out of anger for having been stopped by the police.
Meanwhile, just few days before the start of his process, a footage circulating on the internet depicts Pistorius giving proof of his gun dexterity by blowing a watermelon to pieces with a single shot, just days before the fatal accident that killed her girlfriend.
Prosecutors will also use against the athlete other telling examples of his tumultuous life, such as a 2009 speedboat crash that he caused while driving drunk, and a previous arrest later that year after he assaulted a female guest during a party at his house.
Marius du Toit, a former South African state prosecutor who is not involved in the case, told the Associated Press that Pistorius did not act in a reasonable way as he shot four times through a closed door and ignored basic gun owner’s guidelines.
On March 3, Pistorius will appear at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to face charges of premeditated murder. Whether he is a sport star caught in tragedy or an impulsive trigger-happy man who deserves life sentence for intentionally shooting his girlfriend is to be decided in the following weeks by the verdict of Judge Thokozile Masipa.
By Stefano Salustri