VANDERBIJLPARK, South Africa — The brother of double-amputee athlete Oscar Pistorius went on trial in a South African court today for the death of a woman in a road collision in 2008.
Carl Pistorius, who faces a charge of culpable homicide, or negligent killing, wore a dark suit and was accompanied by his sister, Aimee. Oscar Pistorius, who was charged with murdering his girlfriend on Feb. 14, was not present. The Olympian hasn't been seen in public since he was granted bail at Pretoria Magistrate's Court on Feb. 22. His lawyers plan to challenge his bail restrictions on Thursday.
Initial proceedings in Carl Pistorius’ case at Vanderbijlpark Magistrate's Court south of Johannesburg focused on a request by South Africa's national broadcaster, SABC, to show the trial proceedings live on national television or record them for later use.
Magistrate Buks du Plessis said reporters could attend the trial but turned down the SABC request, saying he wanted to guard against “emotional hype” and that any public interest in the trial stemmed only from the intense interest in the murder case against Oscar Pistorius. News photographers were not allowed to cover the trial while it was in session.
“He's not a celebrity in his own right,” du Plessis said of Oscar's brother. Addressing Carl Pistorius, the magistrate then said: “Apologies to you, sir.”
Carl Pistorius smiled and nodded.
Defense lawyer Kenneth Oldwadge said the legal team for Oscar Pistorius had been “overwhelmed by the media,” and that similar press scrutiny would make it difficult to work in court during the older brother's case. Oldwadge cited a comment by the judge in Oscar Pistorius’ bail hearing that the media treated the athlete like some kind of unusual “species” instead of a human being.
Prosecutors say Carl Pistorius was driving an SUV in March 2008 when he collided with a female motorcyclist. The woman, Marietjie Barnard, died in a hospital. Although the culpable homicide charge against Carl was initially dropped, it was reinstated this year because forensic evidence and reports from the accident scene became available, according to prosecutors.
The Pistorius family said last month that Carl deeply regretted the incident but insisted it was a “tragic accident.” He was not under the influence of alcohol, the family said.
Oscar's legal team filed an appeal against some of his bail conditions on March 7, objecting to him being not allowed to travel outside of South Africa even though a magistrate said he was not a flight risk when granting him 1 million rand ($108,000) bail. They're also challenging an alcohol ban and a ruling that Pistorius cannot speak with residents at the gated estate where he shot girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp dead in the early hours of Valentine's Day.
The athlete denies murdering Steenkamp and says he shot her by mistake, fearing an intruder was in his home. Prosecutors say he killed her intentionally following an argument.
Oscar Pistorius must appear in court again on June 4.