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Oscar Pistorius granted bail

Phillip De Wet

Oscar Pistorius's bail application has been approved by magistrate Desmond Nair at the Pretoria Magistrate's Court.

Oscar Pistorius. (Paul Botes, M&G)

The Pretoria Magistrate's Court has granted Oscar Pistorius bail – at a price –  following three and a half days of dramatic testimony and argument.

After eight nights in jail, Oscar Pistorius will leave the Pretoria Magistrate's Court on Friday afternoon with the prospect of relative freedom for the duration of his trial, after Nair granted him bail.

Pistorius's bail amount has been set at R1-million. The conditions he must meet are yet to be revealed.

According to reports Pistorius stood staring down during the duration of the proceedings, his face strained. He started crying when Nair described how Steenkamp had died in Pistorius's arms.

Pistorius started sobbing as Nair said the state had not found grounds for him not to get bail. Pistorius's family were seen hugging and standing in a circle in prayer after Nair's verdict on bail.

Argument for and against Pistorius being granted bail lasted for three and a half days this week, as prosecutors maintained he faced serious charges and had the capability to flee the country, while his defence portrayed him as a victim of police bungling after a tragic accident.

The Pistorius family earlier said he would focus on the upcoming trial, but may well resume training, even though he is not expected to compete for some time.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel had argued that an affidavit submitted by Pistorius showed a sense of exceptionalism, and a lack of appreciation for the seriousness of killing somebody, even by accident. That, plus the fact that Pistorius has means, friends abroad and the use of a house in Italy, he held, made the Blade Runner a flight risk.

Not a flight risk
Nair asked Nel what kind of life Pistorius could expect to lead on the run. "A life of freedom," the prosecutor responded. "A life not in prison."

But defence advocate Barry Roux told the magistrate that Pistorius could not even pass through airport security without his prosthetic legs – and thus his identity – being detected.

Pistorius' bail application was initially treated as a serious crime, in which the onus is on the defendant to show exceptional circumstances under which bail should be granted. But Roux successfully argued that the evidence pointed instead to a lesser crime, which requires prosecutors to show why bail should not be granted.

On his own version of the facts, Pistorius is highly likely to be convicted of at least culpable homicide, even if the state can not prove that he intended to kill Reeva Steenkamp.


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