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Thursday
Feb212013

Pistorius Case: Lead Detective to Be Booted from Investigation Team

Herman Verwey/City Press/Gallo Images/Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- The South African Police Service said Thursday that Hilton Botha, the lead investigator in the Oscar Pistorius murder case, will no longer be part of the investigation after this week's bail hearing ends.

The decision comes in light of the revelation that the detective is facing his own attempted murder charges in connection to a 2011 shooting.

"We became aware of the allegations that surfaced yesterday against the investigating officer in the Oscar Pistorius case," Police Chief Reah Piyega said at a news conference Thursday.

Botha and other police officers allegedly fired at passengers in a vehicle two years ago.

"We were aware of the matter, it was in court, it was withdrawn and yesterday we got the decision of the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority]," she said. "At this point in time, it is premature for anyone of us to pre-judge this case."

Botha will be allowed to finish the Pistorius bail application that ended its third day in court Thursday afternoon. Whether Pistorius is granted bail or not, Botha will not be part of the investigation team as it prepares for the Olympic sprinter's trial.

Piyega said Botha is "highly experienced" after 22 years of service and the matter "doesn't take away that experience."

A decision in Pistorius' bail application is expected Friday.

Botha is scheduled to appear in court in May on seven counts of attempted murder in connection to the October 2011 incident in which he and two other officers allegedly fired shots at a minibus they were attempting to stop. It's unclear whether any of the passengers were injured.

Botha has been outlining details this week at the Olympic runner's bail hearing of his investigation into the Feb. 14 shooting death of Reeva Steenkamp at Pistorius' home in Pretoria, South Africa. Botha was one of the first officers to arrive at the scene, where Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model, was found fatally shot three times.

Pistorius, a double-amputee who walks on carbon fiber blades, says he killed his girlfriend accidentally.

Pistorius on Thursday was dropped by two of his sponsors, Nike and Thierry Mugler.

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