Pistorius not a flight risk - lawyers

2013-03-11 10:32
Oscar Pistorius (AP)

Oscar Pistorius (AP)

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Johannesburg - Lawyers for Oscar Pistorius have filed an appeal against bail restrictions imposed on the Olympian, who is charged with murdering his girlfriend, according to papers released by the Pistorius family on Monday.

"The conditions appealed against are unwarranted and not substantiated by the facts," said the appeal, which was filed in Pretoria on Friday.

The appeal reflected the robust defence strategy of lawyers for Pistorius, who has been staying at his uncle Arnold's home in a Pretoria suburb since he was released on bail on 22 February.

It is a delicate balance because the Pistorius family has also sought to keep a low profile, expressing sorrow for the death of Reeva Steenkamp on 14 February. Pistorius says he mistakenly shot Steenkamp, thinking she was an intruder in his home. Prosecutors believe he killed her intentionally after an argument.

Bail conditions

The Associated Press received a copy of the court papers by e-mail from representatives of the Pistorius family. The appeal was prepared by Ramsay Webber, a legal firm based in Johannesburg.

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 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.

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 The Associated Press 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."

Alcohol

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.

In addition, 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", according to Pistorius's legal camp.

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

Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair had set bail at R1m. 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.

- See News24's Pistorius Special Report.

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