Pistorius out on bail until murder trial
South African paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius has spent his first night out of custody since being granted bail.PT1M10S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2ez6f 620 349 February 23, 2013
It took two agonising hours for the magistrate to deliver his verdict, but when he granted Oscar Pistorius bail, the decision was greeted with cheers from the public gallery and tears from the defendant.
The world's most famous Paralympian - nicknamed Blade Runner - was released from custody on Friday after Desmond Nair, the magistrate, said he was satisfied that Pistorius did not pose a flight risk, nor was he likely to interfere with witnesses.
He said the state had not presented a case that was ''strong or watertight'' enough to guarantee conviction, impelling the athlete to flee South Africa.
Relieved ... Oscar Pistorius after being released on bail. Photo: AP
As he granted the 26-year-old bail, however, Mr Nair added that he believed that there were some serious holes in the athlete's version of how he came to shoot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
The magistrate's decision was greeted with shouts of ''yes!'' from friends of the Olympian in the public gallery, but Pistorius's only reaction was to drop his head and weep as his family reached out to touch him.
Under the bail conditions, Pistorius will be confined to Pretoria until his murder trial, which could be at least a year away. He faces a possible life sentence if convicted.
Emerging from the holding cell where his brother was taken after the decision was announced, Carl Pistorius said the sportsman was ''relieved'', but added: ''It's a long road ahead.'' His uncle, Arnold Pistorius, added that the family remained ''in mourning'' for Miss Steenkamp.
Kim Myers, a friend of Miss Steenkamp who attended the hearing, said she was reserving judgment until the trial.
''We trust and hope that justice will prevail,'' she said. ''People must remember that someone has lost her life here and we are just very sad about that.''
The result followed four days of highly charged hearings at Pretoria magistrates' court, during which Pistorius repeatedly broke down.
He testified that he shot Miss Steenkamp, 29, by mistake after waking in the night and believing that an intruder was locked in the toilet. He fired four shots through the locked door, believing that Miss Steenkamp was still sleeping in their bed. Only when she failed to answer his cries to call the police did Pistorius realise what he had done.
Mr Nair gave Pistorius credit for placing a full account before the court, but added that he was not entirely convinced.
''I have difficulty with the accused not appreciating the whereabouts of his girlfriend when he got off the bed,'' he said. ''I have difficulty with the accused not seeking to verify who was in the lavatory when he could have asked. Why did the deceased not scream back from the lavatory? Why did the deceased and the accused not seek to escape through the bedroom door rather than venture into the lavatory? Why would he charge to a very dangerous area if he wanted to protect himself and the deceased? These are improbabilities that need to be explained.''
Pistorius is due back in court on June 4, when a trial date may be set.