Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Top Detective Replaced in Pistorius Case Investigator Is Facing 7 Charges of Attempted Murder

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Top Detective Replaced in Pistorius Case Investigator Is Facing 7 Charges of Attempted Murder

Article excerpt

PRETORIA, South Africa -- The South African police replaced the lead investigator in the Oscar Pistorius homicide case Thursday after revelations that he was facing seven charges of attempted murder himself.

The decision by the national police commissioner to remove the investigator, Warrant Officer Detective Hilton Botha, was the latest in a series of abrupt twists and setbacks in the prosecution of Mr. Pistorius, the double amputee Olympic track star accused of murdering his girlfriend Feb. 14 by firing four shots through a locked bathroom door while she was on the other side.

Riah Phiyega, the commissioner, said at a news conference that a divisional police commissioner, Lt. Gen. Vinesh Moonoo, would be assigned to preside over "this very important investigation."

After widespread media reports about the charges against Detective Botha, prosecutor Gerrie Nel said at the start of the hearing Thursday that he had just learned about them. The news only compounded questions about Detective Botha's work on the Pistorius case. Under cross-examination Wednesday, he was forced to acknowledge several mistakes in the investigation, and to concede that he could not rule out Mr. Pistorius' version of events based on the existing evidence.

While the prosecution has accused Mr. Pistorius, 26, of premeditated murder, Mr. Pistorius has said he opened fire through the door thinking there was an intruder in his home, located in a gated community in Pretoria, and had no intention of killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, 29, a model and law school graduate.

"The poor quality of evidence presented by chief investigating officer Botha exposed the disastrous shortcomings in the state's case," Mr. Pistorius' defense lawyer, Barry Roux, said Thursday.

Mr. Nel tried to regain some of the ground lost Wednesday, arguing that no matter who Mr. …

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