(PRETORIA, South Africa) — The Oscar Pistorius murder probe has suddenly focused on Hilton Botha, the prosecution’s lead police detective.
While a judge in Pretoria, South Africa, still hasn’t determined whether Pistorius, a Paralympic champion, should be granted bail while awaiting trial for last week’s shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, Botha is now under scrutiny because of seven counts of attempted murder against him.
Botha and a group of police officers were accused of drunkenly opening fire on a minibus carrying seven passengers in 2011. While charges were filed but never carried through, the director of public prosecutions decided on Wednesday to push ahead with the charges against Botha and two cops.
This announcement came as Botha’s testimony was pulled apart by Pistorius’ defense attorney in court Wednesday during a bail hearing related to the Valentine’s Day shooting of Steenkamp that the prosecution maintains was premeditated murder.
Botha testified that a witness heard shouts from the Pistorius’ home but it was later ascertained that the witness lived 600 meters away. Meanwhile, Botha also admitted that he had never bothered to check whether Pistorius had called an ambulance, which records showed he did.
Doubts were also raised about the prosecution’s contention that steroids and testosterone were found at the runner’s home.
Pistorius, who could get life in prison if convicted of murder, became the first double amputee to compete in the Summer Olympic Games when he was fitted with racing blades and ran for South Africa in London last year.
Pistorius also competed in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London and won gold medals in the 4-by-100 meter relay and the 400-meter individual event.
On Thursday, two of his sponsors — Nike and Thierry Mugler — dropped him.
“Nike has suspended its contract with Oscar Pistorius. We believe Oscar Pistorius should be afforded due process and we will continue to monitor the situation closely,” Nike said in a statement.
Thierry Mugler said it decided to remove all ads featuring Pistorius “out of respect and sympathy” to his family.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Susan Scutti, CNN
Lorenzo Ferrigno, CNN
Lauren del Valle, CNN