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South African judge grants Pistorius bail

Judge in Pretoria sets bail at $112,770, ruling Olympian charged with shooting dead his girlfriend is not a flight risk.
Last Modified: 22 Feb 2013 21:39

South African magistrate Desmond Nair has granted bail for Oscar Pistorius, the Olympian athlete star accused of murdering his girlfriend.

During his summarising of arguments on Friday, the forth day of the bail hearing, Chief Magistrate Nair said he did not believe that Pistorius was a flight risk. He added that the prosecution had failed to show that Pistorius had a propensity for violence.

The decision by Nair drew cheers from Pistorius' family and supporters at the Pretoria magistrate's court, although the athlete appeared unmoved as the decision was read out.

Bail conditions

Pretoria magistrate sets harsh terms for Pistorius:
 Pay $11,300 of $112,000 bail in cash.
 Banned from drinking alcohol.
 Report to local police station twice a week.
 Avoid witnesses and home.
 Surrender passport.
 Turn in any other guns he owns.
 Seek permission from probation officer before leaving Pretoria district.

"That reaching out in the affidavit, the way that he did, placing it before the court,'' Nair said.

"I come to the conclusion that the accused has made a case to be released on bail.''

Pistorius is charged with one count of premeditated murder in the February 14 killing of Reeva Steenkamp.

Bail was set at $112,770 or one million rand and Pistorius will have to surrender his passport, firearms and report to Pretoria's Brooklyn police between 7:00 am and 1:00 pm on Monday and Friday.

He is to appear in court again on June 4.

Pistorius says he accidentally shot her, thinking she was a dangerous intruder inside his home, lurking in a toilet stall off his bedroom.

Earlier in the day, the prosecution vehemently opposed bail to Chief Magistrate Nair in a case that has transfixed South Africans and brought international media attention to the nation's justice system and police capabilities.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel called Pistorius' version that he shot Steenkamp accidentally improbable and argued that Pistorius did not have to have planned the killing for days in advance for it to be premeditated.

"He planned it that night when she [Steenkamp] locked herself in [the toilet]," Nel said in response to a question from the magistrate on why Pistorius hadn't staged a break-in at his home to make his story look more believable.

"The fact that we have only one survivor of that tragic night is difficult for the state."

No escape

Al Jazeera's Tania Page, reporting from Pretoria, said that both sides in the case need to reevaluate their efforts.

"From here, both the defence and the prosecution really need to get their act together. The prosecution more than the defence," she said.

 Pistorius is to appear in court again on June 4 [Reuters]

Pistorius's defence lawyer, Barry Roux, brought up culpable homicide as a possible charge for the first time in the case when answering questions from the magistrate.

"He did not want to kill Reeva. He had no intent to kill Reeva," Roux said as Pistorius began weeping again, like he has done for much of his bail hearing.

Roux said it was impossible for Pistorius, as famous as he is and with his prostheses, to escape South Africa before trial and bail should be granted.

"Let me tell you how difficult it is for this man to disappear from this world," Roux said.

Prosecutor Nel earlier countered that everyone, whether disabled or famous or otherwise different from the majority, should be treated equally under the law.

Nel noted that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is famous but is now holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden to face sex-related charges.

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