Judge grants runner Oscar Pistorius bail

Feb. 22, 2013 at 10:19 AM
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PRETORIA, South Africa, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Runner Oscar Pistorius, charged in his girlfriend's death, got bail Friday, with a South African magistrate saying he didn't think the Paralympian would flee.

Besides saying he didn't believe Pistorius was a flight risk, Magistrate Desmond Nair said he didn't think the prosecution demonstrated that Pistorius had a tendency for violence, that the public would be outraged if he were released or that the state's case was so compelling that the man's only reaction would be to flee if released.

Pistorius, a 26-year-old double amputee who runs on below-knee prosthetic legs, is charged with premeditated murder in the Feb. 14 shooting death of his girlfriend, 29-year-old model Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius said he thought an intruder was behind a closed bathroom door when he fired four shots.

Bail was set at 1 million rand (about $112,600). Once 100,000 (about $11,260) rand was paid Pistorius could be released on the conditions that he must:

-- Appear in court June 4.

-- Surrender all passports and not apply for one.

-- Not enter any airport.

-- Surrender all firearms and refrain from possessing one.

-- Not talk to any prosecution witnesses.

Also as condition for his release, Nair said Pistorius must have a probation officer and correctional official from the date of his release until the trial is concluded, and inform the officers of his movements and must ask permission for any trips outside of Pretoria.

He also must not be charged with a crime of violence against woman or use drugs or alcohol.

Looking ahead to trial, Nair said Pistorius' version of events had several holes, including why Pistorius didn't determine Steenkamp's whereabouts and why he didn't verify who was in the bathroom before shooting.

During the multiple-day bail hearing in Pretoria, the prosecution argued Pistorius may flee and should be refused bail.

The defense countered that confused testimony given by a detective, who was later removed from the case, undermined the prosecution's case.

Police Thursday replaced lead investigator Detective Hilton Botha after announcing he was charged with seven counts of attempted murder in a separate episode in which he and two other officers allegedly fired at seven passengers in a minivan while drunk.

Botha denies the charges and says he fired at the minivan's tires.

Divisional police commissioner Lt. Gen. Vinesh Moonoo is now in charge of the Pistorius case, which national police Commissioner Riah Phiyega called a "very important investigation."

Pistorius won two gold medals and a silver at the 2012 Paralympic Games. Earlier last summer in London he became the first paralympic sprinter to participate in the Summer Olympics.

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