Pistorius lawyers appeal bail restrictions

Defence argues South African Olympic star Oscar Pistorius, charged with murdering his girlfriend, is not a flight risk.

    Pistorius lawyers appeal bail restrictions
    Pistorius says he mistakenly shot his girlfriend Steenkamp, thinking she was an intruder in his home [Reuters]

    Lawyers for Oscar Pistorius have filed an appeal in a South African court against bail restrictions imposed on the Olympian, who is charged with murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

    Pistorius has been staying at his uncle Arnold's home in a Pretoria suburb since he was released on bail on February 22.

    In the papers, lawyers for the double-amputee athlete argued against the requirement that he surrender all passports and travel documents, and refrain from applying for such documents pending the end of his case.

    "The conditions appealed against are unwarranted and not substantiated by the facts," said the appeal, which was filed on Friday in Pretoria, a copy of which was emailed to the AP news agency on Monday.

    Pistorius says he mistakenly shot Steenkamp on February 14, thinking she was an intruder in his home.

    Prosecutors believe he killed her intentionally after an argument.

    The defence also argued that the runner should be allowed access to the property at Silverwoods Country Estate where he shot Steenkamp, once the state completes its investigations there within a "reasonable time limit".

    "A blanket restriction on speaking to residents is unfair" and infringes on Pistorius' rights to consult people on the estate to prepare for his trial, the appeal said.

    'No basis'

    Defence lawyers said evidence presented at the athlete's bail hearing showed he is not a flight risk and should have the option of travelling outside South Africa as long as he has official permission.

    "He's not under house arrest, but his movements need to be known to us so that we don't pitch there and he's not there."

    - James Smalberger, Correctional Services

    The appeal also said there was "no basis in fact or in law'' justifying terms under which Pistorius must be supervised by a probation officer and a correctional official.

    Officials will visit Pistorius at his uncle's home at least four times a month, according to James Smalberger, chief deputy commissioner of the department of correctional services, who spoke to AP last
    month.

    "He's not under house arrest, but his movements need to be known to us so that we don't pitch there and he's not there," Smalberger had said.

    "We agree on 'free time' normally during the course of the day, and in the evening we expect him to be home."

    The appeal against the bail conditions also objected to the requirement that Pistorius refrain from using alcohol or any banned substance, even though he had no intention of doing so.

    "The mere use of any substance with alcohol in it will give rise to a transgression of the wide condition imposed," the appeal said. 

    Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair had set bail at $113,000. 

    The 26-year-old track star was also ordered to turn in any guns he owns, and cannot leave the district of Pretoria without his probation officer's permission.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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