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Pistorius bail hearing; Steenkamp service

PRETORIA, South Africa, Feb. 19 (UPI) — Nike Inc. said it dropped accused killer Oscar Pistorius from future ad campaigns, as the South African sprinter was due in court Tuesday for a bail hearing.

“We have no plans for using him in any upcoming campaigns,” spokeswoman Mary Remuzzi told United Press International Monday.

The decision to drop Pistorius was made last week, Remuzzi said, after the Olympic and Paralympic double-amputee, who races on carbon-fiber blades, was charged with murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend, model and law school graduate Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius has not entered a plea. But a statement released by his agent Friday said he disputed the murder charge “in the strongest terms.”

The statement added, “Our thoughts and prayers today should be” for Steenkamp and her family, “regardless of the circumstances of this terrible, terrible tragedy.”

Steenkamp was shot four times and her skull was reported fractured.

Pistorius is in no current Nike campaigns, and Remuzzi told UPI the footwear, apparel and sports-equipment company “thought [it] was appropriate to take down” from Pistorius’ official website a 2011 Nike print ad of Pistorius at the start of a sprint race breaking out of the starting blocks to the phrase, “I am the bullet in the chamber,” accompanied by Nike’s signature Just Do It catchphrase.

The ad was removed from Pistorius’ site Thursday.

Also Monday, Oakley Inc., a maker of sunglasses, sports visors and ski goggles, said in a statement, “In light of the recent allegations, Oakley is suspending its contract with Oscar Pistorius, effective immediately.”

Neither company said how much the contracts were worth.

Their announcements came a day after Pistorius agent Peet van Zyl said in a statement sponsors and partners had agreed to maintain their contractual commitments to Pistorius as the legal process continued.

At Tuesday’s bail hearing, the Pistorius defense team was expected to present its case first, arguing their client was not a danger to the public and did not pose a flight risk, British newspaper The Guardian reported.

Pistorius was likely to enter a plea.

Prosecutors were expected to present their case that Pistorius should be held without bail until his trial. They were also expected to describe the shooting, evidence police gathered and why the state planned to charge Pistorius with premeditated murder, the most serious murder charge under South African criminal law.

Pretoria police have said they will also oppose his bail application.

Defense attorneys will have to prove “exceptional circumstances” for the judge to free Pistorius on bail, a UPI review of South Africa’s Criminal Procedure Act found.

During a preliminary hearing Friday, Pistorius broke down and sobbed.

If Pistorius stands trial and a court finds him Pistorius guilty, he could face life imprisonment and would be eligible for parole after 25 years, when he is 51.

Separately Tuesday, about 700 miles south of Pretoria, Steenkamp was to be cremated in a private service in Port Elizabeth, her hometown.

June Steenkamp, her mother, told The Times of South Africa she lost “the most beautiful person who ever lived” to a “horrendous death.”

“She had so much of herself to give and now all of it is gone. In the blink of an eye and a single breath, the most beautiful person who ever lived is no longer here,” she told the newspaper.

“All we want are answers as to why this had to happen, why our beautiful daughter had to die like this,” she said.

Copyright 2013 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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