JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Two days before Oscar Pistorius goes on trial for murder, his family said Saturday that they will not be distracted by what they called "extraneous issues" and their only focus is his court case.
"We love Oscar, and believe in him, and will be standing by him throughout the coming trial," the family statement said.
The statement, attributed to Pistorius' uncle, Arnold Pistorius, comes as the spotlight shines intensely on the double-amputee Olympian, who is charged with premeditated murder in the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius has admitted killing Steenkamp but says he shot the 29-year-old model through a toilet door in his house last Feb. 14 after mistaking her for an intruder.
Pistorius' trial, which could be one of the most watched in recent history, opens on Monday in the South African capital, Pretoria, and parts will be broadcast on live television in South Africa and around the world. There will be a live audio feed throughout and proceedings will be closely scrutinized by millions.
"With less than two days before the commencement of Oscar's criminal trial, the family as well as the legal team will not be distracted by extraneous issues that have no bearing on, or relevance to, the legal process that must now be allowed to unfold," Arnold Pistorius said. "We will not be commenting on any media reports, nor will we be engaging the press on any issues that belong in court. The time for public commentary is over. The focus is now entirely on a very serious trial that is set to start this Monday."
Pistorius faces a life sentence with a minimum of 25 years in prison if he is convicted of the main premeditated murder charge. He also faces a second charge of illegal possession of ammunition and will be indicted with two more counts relating to firing a gun in public on two separate occasions when his trial starts, prosecutors say.
South Africa's department of justice expects around 300 media members to be at the North Gauteng High Court building on Monday, with more than 100 reporters accredited to be inside the court building.