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Christian Paralympian weeps in court

The family of Christian Paralympian Oscar Pistorius says he disputes the allegation that he murdered his girlfriend.

The athlete appeared in court earlier today charged with shooting Reeva Steenkamp at his home in Pretoria in South Africa yesterday. His relatives and management company have released a statement saying he denies it "in the strongest terms."

The 26 year-old broke down in tears as he appeared in court formally charged with the murder of his girlfriend. He sat with his head bowed as he was brought before magistrates in Pretoria.

Christian station Impact Radio 103FM is based in Pretoria.

Journalist Thabi Madisa told Premier's Des Busteed during the News Hour that everyone is shocked:

Twenty-nine year-old model Miss Steenkamp, who called herself 'a Child of God' on her Twitter profile, had been shot a number of times. She died at the scene.

Emergency services were called to the athlete's property - which is in a gated community in Pretoria - on Thursday morning.

The incident is said to have taken place between 04:00 and 05:00 local time (02:00-03:00 GMT). Initially it was reported the model may have been the victim of mistaken identity - shot after being mistaken for a burglar. But police say they are treating this case as a murder inquiry. Reeva Steenkamp had been with Mr Pistorius for a couple of months. She's well known as a model in South Africa and was reportedly due to take part in a reality show.

On her Twitter profile she called herself a "SA Model, Cover Girl, Tropika Island of Treasure Celeb Contestant, Law Graduate, Child of God".

Her publicist Sarit Tomlinson has been paying tribute. She said: "Everyone who knew her is in tears. She was an absolute angel, the sweetest, sweetest human being, a kind human being." Mr Pistorius, known as 'blade runner', was the first double amputee to run in the Olympics and is one of the most famous athletes in the world - winning multiple Paralympic gold medals. He also made history at London 2012 - becoming the first amputee athlete to take part in the Olympic Games. The Johannesburg athlete was born without fibulas in his legs and had the limbs amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old. He had to win a legal battle over his blades with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in 2008 for the right to compete in able-bodied competition. He grew up in a Christian home and one of his tattoos is the Bible verse 1 Corinthians 9:26 which begins, "Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly".

On February 11th he retweeted:

"When you start focusing on a loving God who's given everything stop focusing on what seems to be going wrong, you will see breakthrough."

South Africa has one of the highest rates of crime in the world and many residents keep weapons to protect themselves against intruders.

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