Pistorius family condemn claim he beat girlfriend with cricket bat
The family of Oscar Pistorius have condemned allegations made in a book that new evidence exists to show that he beat girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp with a cricket bat before fatally shooting her at his home in 2013.
The family called the allegations "outrageous" and "absurd", and said there was an "often vicious" media campaign against the double-amputee Olympian since he was charged with murder over Steenkamp's killing.
Pistorius appeared in court this week for the first time since his conviction for shooting Steenkamp was upgraded to murder after an appeal by prosecutors. He faces 15 years in prison and will be sentenced in June.
Pistorius's family also dismissed a British newspaper story that said his uncle had admitted Pistorius murdered Steenkamp, calling it "gutter journalism".
In the book, Oscar vs The Truth, brothers Calvin and Thomas Mollett wrote they had seen new evidence, including marks on the back of Steenkamp's body, that indicated Pistorius hit her with the bat before he killed her.
The Pistorius family said no new evidence existed to back up the allegations and called the book's authors "amateur forensic hobbyists" who were only seeking fame and money.
"This is yet another attention-seeking, money-making exercise, this time by two citizens with detective fantasies who have a history of latching on to high-profile cases after the fact," the family said.
The Mollett brothers have also published books about another high-profile murder case in South Africa involving a man who was acquitted of murder for killing his girlfriend.
Pistorius's cricket bat was a key part of the evidence at his murder trial. His defence claimed it was bloodied and damaged after he broke down a toilet cubicle door with it to get to Steenkamp after shooting her accidentally thinking she was an intruder. He then left it on the bathroom floor while he tried to help his girlfriend, the defence argued.
The prosecution alleged Pistorius and Steenkamp fought in the pre-dawn hours of February 14 2013 before he shot her multiple times through the closed door after she fled to the bathroom.
In finding Pistorius guilty of murder on appeal, South Africa's Supreme Court did not rule he intentionally killed Steenkamp. It ruled he was guilty of murder according to a section of South African law because he realised someone might die as a result of his actions, and went ahead anyway when his own life was not in danger.
Pistorius's sentencing hearing will run from June 13 to 17, when the judge who initially acquitted him of murder will decide his new sentence. South Africa has a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison for murder unless an offender can show exceptional circumstances.