Oscar Pistorius — the standout athlete now on trial accused of the murder of his girlfriend — plans to sell his Pretoria home “to raise the necessary funds to cover his increasing legal costs,” a statement on his website said Thursday.
The house is where Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead in February 2013. Pistorius hasn’t returned since her death, according to the statement.
A prosecutor in the Pistorius murder case unexpectedly announced Wednesday that he expects to rest early next week.
Pistorius, 27, could take the stand in his defense as early as next week if the case goes ahead as planned. He admits firing the shots that killed his girlfriend but has pleaded not guilty to murder, saying he thought she was a burglar and he believed he was acting in self-defense.
The statement, issued by his media representatives, said the sale of his home was forced by an unexpected extension of the trial from the three weeks initially scheduled.
“It is important to note that Mr. Pistorius has been funding his own defence (sic) from the outset. Due to the delay in finalising (sic) the trial, the decision to urgently dispose of his single biggest asset, has had to be made,” it said.
The house has been kept sealed since it was handed back to Pistorius over a year ago, and the athlete “cannot contemplate ever returning to live there again,” it said.
Some of Pistorius’ neighbors on the estate have been key witnesses in his trial.
The trial has also seen extensive photographs of the interior of the house, including the bloodstains found in the toilet room where Steenkamp was shot.
The property, in the luxury Silver Woods Estate on the outskirts of Pretoria, was listed in an affidavit filed by Pistorius last February, only days after Steenkamp’s death, as being worth 5 million Rand. That’s around $465,000 at current exchange rates.
Pistorius also listed ownership of three other South African properties of lesser value in the affidavit, as well as cash investments, “household furniture and effects, motor vehicles and jewelery.”
His occupational income on the affidavit was listed as about 5.6 million Rand a year. However, he has not competed professionally as an athlete since he was charged with Steenkamp’s murder.
Pistorius first achieved global fame as an outstanding double amputee sprinter who ran with special prostheses that earned him the nickname “Blade Runner.”
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