Africa

Oscar Pistorius spends first night out of custody after bail

  • 23 February 2013
  • From the section Africa

South African Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius - who faces murder charges over the shooting of his girlfriend - has spent his first night out of custody after being granted bail.

At a pre-trial hearing on Friday, a Pretoria magistrate ruled the state had not made a case that he would flee, or that he had a violent character.

Mr Pistorius, 26, denies murder, saying he shot Reeva Steenkamp, 29, thinking she was an intruder at his home.

The next hearing is set for 4 June.

Mr Pistorius spent eight nights in a police cell in Pretoria, following his arrest on 14 February. After Friday's ruling granting him bail, he left the court in a silver car pursued by photographers.

The athlete is staying at his uncle's house in Pretoria.

Reeva Steenkamp's family say they want the truth

Reports say he may start training again and hold talks with his coach.

Family 'relieved'

Magistrate Desmond Nair set bail at 1m rand (£74,000; $113,000).

Mr Pistorius was also ordered to hand over his passport, avoid his home in Pretoria and report to a police station every Monday and Friday.

Mr Nair took almost two hours to deliver his judgement.

He criticised the testimony of Detective Hilton Botha for not following up important leads and changing his evidence.

The magistrate also said Mr Pistorius had "reached out to meet the state's case" and had given a full version of events at an early stage.

Mr Pistorius's family and supporters in the court gasped and cheered as the magistrate announced his decision.

His uncle, Arnold Pistorius, said outside court: "We are relieved by the fact that Oscar got bail today, but at the same time, we are in mourning for Reeva Steenkamp and her family."

Conflicting accounts

The hearing began on Tuesday and both prosecution and defence laid out their cases.

Both sides agree that Mr Pistorius shot through the bathroom door four times, hitting and killing Ms Steenkamp.

But prosecutors allege the shooting happened after the couple had an argument at Mr Pistorius's home in the early hours of 14 February.

Det Botha told the court that witnesses had heard shouting, screaming and gunfire from about 600m (2,000ft) away.

But later he changed his evidence to suggest the witnesses were much closer.

And on Thursday it emerged that Det Botha faces allegations of attempted murder, and he was removed from the case.

Mr Pistorius says he woke in the middle of the night, and thought there was an intruder in the bathroom.

The prosecutors sought to portray Mr Pistorius as man with a history of violence who was likely to flee the country.

But the defence argued it would be impossible for Mr Pistorius to flee because his prosthetic legs would be noticed wherever he went.

Ms Steenkamp, 29, was a model and law graduate with a burgeoning television career.

Oscar Pistorius, 26, won gold medals at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, in Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012.

In London he made history by becoming the first double-amputee to run in the Olympics, making the semi-final of the 400m.