CENTURION, South Africa (AP) — The mother of Oscar Pistorius' slain girlfriend will attend the double-amputee Olympian's murder trial next month to get "closure," Reeva Steenkamp's family said on Tuesday as the anniversary of the shooting death that put a national hero in the dock approaches.
"June and other family members will be at the trial in Pretoria," Steenkamp's parents, Barry and June, said in a statement released through the family lawyers. "All we are looking for is closure and to know that our daughter did not suffer on that tragic Valentine's Day."
No members of Steenkamp's immediate family have attended any of Pistorius' previous court dates, and the decision makes it likely that Pistorius will come face-to-face in court with the family of the woman he says he loved dearly and shot dead in a tragic accident.
Prosecutors believe Pistorius intended to kill Steenkamp after a loud fight heard by neighbors, and his blockbuster trial will likely grip the world's attention. South African television channels have applied to air the trial live, offering a constant view of the proceedings where the country's former icon could face 25 years in prison.
Steenkamp was killed by Pistorius in the pre-dawn hours of Feb. 14 last year. The athlete was charged with murder the same day. Pistorius denies murder and says he shot through a toilet door after mistaking his girlfriend for a dangerous nighttime intruder. Pistorius fired four shots, with three bullets hitting Steenkamp, prosecutors say.
The Steenkamp family statement did not say if father Barry would attend the trial which is to open on March 3 at the North Gauteng High Court in the capital, Pretoria.
"As the first anniversary of our beloved daughter's death approaches, we would like to thank all family, friends, the people of South Africa, and the world for their compassion, kind words and comfort shown to us, and for the many letters of condolences we have received," Steenkamp's parents said. "We understand and empathise with other parents and families who have lost a child or loved one through violence or abuse."
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