3 Mar 2014

Pistorius trial starting in Pretoria

10:18 am on 3 March 2014

The trial of Paralympian Oscar Pistorius, who is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year, starts in Pretoria on Monday.

The trial will be televised after a South African judge ruled that cameras would be allowed in the courtroom.

Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp in January 2013.

Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp in January 2013. Photo: AFP

Prosecutors have charged Pistorius, 27, with the planned killing of his lover. The state is expected to show the couple had relationship problems, and call as witnesses neighbours who heard fighting and screaming the night of the shooting.

But Pistorius has insisted they were in love, and that he shot his girlfriend, 29, through a locked toilet door at his home believing she was an intruder. He denies prosecution claims that they had an argument in the hours before the shooting.

Much of the case will depend on ballistic evidence from the scene of the shooting, the BBC says.

As well as the charge of premeditated murder, Pistorius also faces a charge of illegal possession of ammunition. His trial will last at least three weeks.

The arrest of the national sporting hero astounded South Africa.

Pistorius, whose legs were amputated below the knee when he was a young boy, rose to global fame sprinting on two fibre-optic blades.

Known as the "Blade Runner", he won gold at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and also ran against able-bodied athletes in the London 2012 Olympic Games.