Oscar gets R1m bail

2013-02-22 16:24

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Paralympian star Oscar Pistorius was granted bail of R1 million in the Pretoria Magistrates’ Court this afternoon.

Pistorius has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

Emotional scenes played out in court as Magistrate Desmond Nair announced Pistorius would spend the weekend at home, Adriaan Basson reported from court.

Pistorius has been in custody at the Brooklyn police station for eight nights since he shot dead Steenkamp.

Steenkamp’s friends, Kim Myers and her mother, Desi, were among those in court today. She lived with the Myers since September last year.

The Pistorius family said in a statement read out after the ruling on live television that it was still a very sad time for Steenkamp's family “and for us all”.

They said they stood by Oscar's version of the events on Valentine's Day.

Earlier, in his ruling, Nair had said there were improbabilities in Pistorius' version, which would have to be explored – among them that Pistorius hadn't checked if Steenkamp was in bed. "Why would the accused venture into danger knowing the intruder was in the toilet?" he also asked.

Said Pistorius' uncle, Arnold, outside court: "As a family we know what is Oscar's version of what happened that night. That is the truth and the truth will prevail when it goes to trial."

In his judgment, Nair slammed the conduct of Warrant Officer Hilton Botha, the investigating officer who has since been removed from the case, but said Botha was "not the state's case". He mentioned, among others, his "astounding" perception of distance (Botha changed his version several times of how far the house was of the witness who had overheard an argument between Steenkamp and Pistorius), the failure to check cellphones and cellphone records and the claim that he had contaminated the scene.

Nevertheless, Nair still considered the case to be a Schedule 6 offence (premeditated murder) for the purposes of the bail application. Such a serious offence requires that exceptional circumstances be shown for bail to be granted.

Nair said if the defence could prove that the state's case was weak, it could be considered exceptional circumstances for granting bail. This was not the case.

But while the state's case was not so weak that it could be considered exceptional circumstances, the state also failed to show that the case was so strong that Pistorius had reason to evade his trial.

Nair also said the state had not sufficiently shown that Pistorius had a propensity to commit violence, which could warrant the denial of bail.

Pistorius' bail conditions are, Sapa reported:

» He would be present at 8.30am at every court postponement date.

» He would not return to his home at Silver Woods estate in Pretoria, where the shooting occurred.

» He would reside at an address that would not be publicly disclosed.

» He would hand in all his passports and not apply for any passport or travel documents, and stay away from airports.

» He would report to the Brooklyn police station between 7am and 1pm from Monday to Friday.

» He would refrain from being in possession of any firearm and hand in all his firearms.

The case was postponed to June 4.

» This story was updated after first published.

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