World

Oscar Pistorius murder trial: It begins

FILE - in this Friday, Feb. 22, 2013 file photo,  Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius stands in the dock during his bail hearing at the magistrate court in Pretoria, South Africa. With his athletic triumphs tarnished by the killing of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius, now 27, faces possibly being sent to prison until he is older than 50. Pistorius goes on trial Monday March 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, File)

FILE - in this Friday, Feb. 22, 2013 file photo, Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius stands in the dock during his bail hearing at the magistrate court in Pretoria, South Africa. With his athletic triumphs tarnished by the killing of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius, now 27, faces possibly being sent to prison until he is older than 50. Pistorius goes on trial Monday March 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, File)  (The Associated Press)

The murder trial of Oscar Pistorius, set to open Monday, marks the start of a dramatic new chapter in the life of the double-amputee athlete who ran at the Olympics and became a global star before he shot his girlfriend to death last year.

Prosecutors charged the 27-year-old Pistorius with the premeditated murder of Reeva Steenkamp. They say they will seek a life sentence if Pistorius is convicted, the sternest punishment available in South Africa, which does not have the death penalty.

If convicted on the murder charge, Pistorius could be sent to prison for at least 25 years before the chance of parole, the minimum time someone must serve if given a life sentence in South Africa. He would be older than 50 before he could be released.