Pistorius granted bail

A magistrate granted bail, yesterday, to Oscar Pistorius, citing a number of problems with the police investigation into the death of the Olympic sprinter’s girlfriend.

A magistrate granted bail, yesterday, to Oscar Pistorius, citing a number of problems with the police investigation into the death of the Olympic sprinter’s girlfriend.

“I come to the conclusion that the accused has made a case to be released on bail,” said Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair, eliciting a celebratory cry of “Yes!” from the courtroom.

Pistorius was quiet and reserved after the announcement and did not appear to celebrate. His family hugged quietly.

Nair said the former chief investigator in the case, Hilton Botha, had made “several errors and concessions” in his testimony during the bail hearing, and said prosecutors had failed to prove that Pistorius was a flight risk or had a propensity toward violence.

Botha has since been removed from the case after prosecutors reinstated attempted murder charges against him in a 2011 incident unrelated to Pistorius.

While recounting a litany of “improbabilities” in Pistorius’ account of mistaking Steenkamp for an intruder, Nair said defense attorneys had met the threshold for proving the “exceptional circumstances” required by South African law for the release of a suspect charged with premeditated murder.

Pistorius will be released after posting bail of 1 million rand (about $114,000) by March 1, and 10 per cent of it is due yesterday. He may not return to the home where the shooting happened, Nair ruled.

He must give up his passport, cannot go near an airport and must report to a police station every Monday and Friday, Nair said.

Inside the court

Pistorius is accused of premeditated murder in the February 14 shooting death of Reeva Steenkamp, 29. Authorities and Pistorius’ team agree that he killed Steenkamp, but Pistorius says he mistook her for an intruder.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the judge in final arguments before a packed Pretoria courtroom that Pistorius did not deserve bail.

“He must realise that long-term imprisonment is almost guaranteed. He might think he’ll be acquitted,” he said.

The prosecution had several notable missteps during the bail hearing, including the removal of the lead investigator, who had earlier acknowledged under questioning from defence attorney Barry Roux that police could have contaminated the crime scene and had failed to properly catalog evidence.

South African Police pulled Botha from the case, Thursday, after prosecutors reinstated seven counts of attempted murder charges against him.

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