Lead investigator in Oscar Pistorius case facing attempted murder charges

UPDATE: Hilton Botha removed from case

by Emily Senger

Hilton Botha. (Themba Hadebe/AP)

The lead investigator in the Oscar Pistorius case, Hilton Botha, is now facing his own attempted murder charges, the media has learned on the day after he took the stand at Pistorius’ bail hearing.

The prosecution’s case against Olympic athlete Pistorius, who has been charged with the premeditated murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, took another blow Thursday when police were forced to admit that lead investigator Botha is facing reinstated charges from a shooting in 2011.

The Associated Press reports: “Botha was summoned by the magistrate on Thursday after police said charges have been reinstated against him in connection with a 2011 shooting incident in which he and two other officers allegedly fired at a minibus.”

South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority called the timing of the reinstated charges “totally weird” and recommended that Botha be removed from the case.

The prosecuting authority, which oversees court cases in the country, has called a press conference for 4 p.m. local time to discuss the matter. Journalists covering the case are speculating that Botha will be replaced with investigator Mike Van Aardt at that time.

On Wednesday, Botha testified at Pistorius’ bail hearing and was challenged by the defence. Observers in the courtroom said that Botha crumbled under the cross-examination and was forced to admit that the police had no direct evidence that contradicted the version of events put forward by Pistorius and his defence team. Botha was called back for more testimony on Thursday.

UPDATE: Local news station EWN, which first broke the news about Botha’s attempted murder charges, reports that the lead investigator has been removed from the case. He will be replaced with Lieutenant-General Vinesh Moonoo, the station reports.

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