The South African Police Servicesaid today that Hilton Botha, the lead investigator in the Oscar Pistorius murder case, will be booted fromthe investigation after this week's bail hearing ends.
The decision comes in light of therevelation that the detective is facing his own attempted murder charges inconnection to a 2011 shooting.
"We became aware of theallegations that surfaced yesterday against the investigating officer in theOscar Pistorius case," Police Chief Reah Piyega said at a news conferencetoday.
Botha and other police officersallegedly 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"We were aware of the matter,it was in court, it was withdrawn and yesterday we got the decision of the NPA[National Prosecuting Authority]," she said of the prosecutor's decisionto pursue the charges against Botha. "At this point in time, it ispremature for anyone of us to pre-judge this case."
Medupe Simasiku, an NPA regionalspokesman, told ABC News today that the charges against Botha had beenwithdrawn because of insufficient evidence while the investigation was ongoing.Simasiku was uncertain why the prosecutor decided to reinstate the charges atthis time.
Botha will be allowed to finish thePistorius bail application that ended its third day in court this afternoon.
Whether Pistorius is granted bail ornot, Botha will not be part of the investigation team as it prepares for theOlympic sprinter's trial.
Piyega said Botha is "highlyexperienced" after 22 years of service and the matter "doesn't takeaway that experience."
Police Lt. Gen. Vinesh Moonoo isexpected to lead the investigation.
As for Pistorius' bail application,a decision is expected Friday.
"With that part over, Botha hasdone what he was supposed to do and now we are going into the long haul of theinvestigation," Piyega said.
Botha is scheduled to appear incourt in May on seven counts of attempted murder in connection to the October2011 incident in which he and two other officers allegedly fired shots at aminibus they were attempting to stop. It's unclear whether any of thepassengers were injured.
Botha has been outlining detailsthis week at the Olympic runner's bail hearing of his investigation into theFeb. 14 shooting death of Reeva Steenkamp at Pistorius' home in Pretoria, South Africa. Botha was one of the first officersto arrive at the scene, where Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model, was found fatallyshot three times.
Pistorius, a double-amputee whowalks on carbon fiber blades, says he killed his girlfriend accidentally.
Prosecutors say they were unaware ofthe charges against the detective when he took the stand this week, accordingto The Associated Press.
"The prosecutors were not awareof those charges [against Botha]," Simasiku of the National ProsecutingAuthority said. "We are calling up the information so we can get thedetails of the case. From there, we can take action and see if we remove himfrom the investigation or if he stays."
Botha muddled testimony andeventually admitted Wednesday at Pistorius' bail hearing that the suspect'saccount of the Valentine's Day shooting did not contradict the police's versionof events.
A spokesman for the NPA admittedtoday that charges pending against Botha were not helpful for the credibilityof the prosecution's case, but that the case would hinge on forensic evidence,not the testimony of a police officer.
Pistorius has argued in court thathe was closing his balcony doors when he heard a noise from the bathroom.Fearing an intruder, and without his prosthetic legs on, he grabbed a gun fromunder his bed and fired through the closed bathroom door, he told the court.
But prosecutors say that'simplausible, that the gun's holster was found under the side of the bed whereSteenkamp slept, and that Pistorius would have seen she wasn't there.Prosecutors also say the angle at which the shots were fired shows Pistoriuswas already wearing his prosthetics when he fired.
Pistorius' family and running coachcontinue to stand by him.
In a statement released today,Pistorius' coach Ampie Louw said he was shocked by the developments, but stilllooking forward to getting Pistorius "back on the track."
"I am still in shock followingthe heart-breaking events that occurred last week and my thoughts and prayersare with both of the families involved," Louw said. "I had spent sometime with Reeva recently after being introduced to her by Oscar, giving hertraining tips and advice and she would often be at the track with me whilstOscar was training."
Louw said he found Steenkamp"delightful" and "friendly," like Pistorius, and said hethought the two were happy together. He has been Pistorius' coach for nineyears.
"In my 35 years of coaching,never have I worked with an athlete who has such an incredible work ethic andtreats every training session very seriously and has the focus, the commitmentand the talent that every coach dreams of," he said. "I pray that wecan all, in time, come through this challenging situation following theaccident and I am looking forward to the day I can get my boy back on thetrack."
Pistorius' family said they"fully respect" the bail hearing process and are patiently waitingfor Friday's decision.
"We are strong and supportiveas a family, for Oscar, but we understand that this is in the best interest forall," his uncle Arnold Pistorius said in a statement today.
"This is a unique, emotionaland difficult time for us all," he said. "Our hearts and thoughts arewith the family of Reeva Steenkamp during their time of bereavement".
Meanwhile, Steenkamp's cousin toldCNN that she wants to believe Pistorius' story.
"That is what in my heart, Ihope and wish is the truth, because I would not like to think my cousinsuffered," Kim Martin, Steenkamp's cousin, told CNN's Piers Morgan. "I would not like to thinkthat she was scared."
Pistorius has been dropped by atleast two of his sponsors, Nike and Thierry Mugler.ABC News' Sifiso Khanyile contributed to thisreport.
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