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Oscar Pistorius granted bail in South Africa

South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius has been granted bail. Picture: AFP

South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius has been granted bail. Picture: AFP

OSCAR Pistorius was today granted bail as he awaits trial for killing his girlfriend.

Supporters could be heard saying “yes”, and members of the athlete’s family wept and appeared to pray after Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair announced his decision following a 90-minute speech to the court in Pretoria.

“Blade Runner” Pistorius, 26, is accused of murdering 29-year-old model Reeva Steenkamp at his home last week but claims he shot her through a bathroom door thinking she was an intruder.

Realising his mistake, he broke the door down with a cricket bat and carried her downstairs, he claims.

Pistorius himself was reported as bursting into tears after the decision was announced.

Bail was fixed at 1 million rand (£73,822) including 100,000 rand (£7,382) in cash.

Pistorius must surrender any firearms and his passport and cannot enter any international departure hall.

He is also banned from using any prohibited substance or alcohol.

The case was adjourned until June 4.

In his affidavit, Pistorius described waking up in the early hours of Valentine’s Day and going on to his balcony to bring in a fan and close the sliding doors.

He said he heard a noise in the bathroom and was overcome by a sense of “terror”, thinking someone had broken in.

He fired shots at the toilet door, shouting to Ms Steenkamp to call the police and, when she did not reply, realised she was in the bathroom.

The prosecution said Ms Steenkamp locked herself in the bathroom either to escape an argument or to escape the gun.

During the hearing, the prosecution claimed there was a risk of the athlete fleeing if the court released him on bail, and prosecutor Gerrie Nel said he had the “money, means and motive” to do so.

He said Pistorius’s version of events was “improbable”, compared with the state’s case which was based on “objective facts”.

But the Paralympian’s defence claimed he is so famous he will not be able to flee, and any effort to escape justice would be difficult as his prosthetic legs cannot go unnoticed through airport security, need maintenance and adjustment on a monthly basis, while his own legs need regular medical treatment.

Pistorius’s coach, Ampie Louw, who described the athlete as “heartbroken” over the death of his girlfriend, said earlier that, if he was given bail, he could resume training next week.

During the lengthy hearing, Pistorius was obviously emotional, sobbing as Mr Nair summed up the evidence the court has heard, including the Paralympian’s own account of what happened when he opened fire.

Granting bail to the athlete at Pretoria Magistrates’ Court today after a four-day hearing, Mr Nair, who previously described his task as “unenviable”, said there was no suggestion that Pistorius was a flight risk, he did not appear to have a propensity to violence, and there was no evidence that he would interfere with witnesses.

He said Pistorius had “reached out” in his affidavit describing what had happened, and - pausing before he delivered his final decision to the packed courtroom - said: “I come to the conclusion that the accused has made a case to be released on bail.”

 
 
 

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