Friday, February 22, 2013
OSCAR PISTORIUS GRANTED BAIL DESPITE PROSECUTOR'S OBJECTION
South African paralympic star Oscar Pistorius has been granted bail ahead of his trial for the alleged murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
The embattled athlete, in court on Friday morning on the fourth day of his bail hearing in Pretoria, heard from chief magistrate Desmond Nair that he will be released.
He said he did not believe Pistorius was a flight risk but that although he has shown tendencies of aggression, propensity to violence has not been shown.
Before announcing his decision Nair summarised Pistorius' bail application and the statements from his friends who described his relationship with Steenkamp.
One onlooking journalist tweeted that Pistorius seemed to be reliving the events behind closed eyes as Nair described the shooting in the run up to his bail judgement.
After nearly two hours Nair began to sum up the reasons for his decision, eventually concluding that he could be released.
Pistorius is charged with one count of premediated murder over the February 14 killing of his model girlfriend.
He says the shooting was accidental because he thought she was a dangerous intruder inside his home.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel claimed a previous incident where Pistorius allegedly have fired a gun in a restaurant, then got a friend to take the blame, suggested he was conscious of protecting himself, and said the athlete might flee the country if granted bail.
'Lots of important people have fled, are still fleeing justice. Lots of people have escaped bail,' he said.
'Who should tell the court what happened? The applicant, not the state. We say the court should refuse bail.'
He said Pistorius' version of events was 'improbable', while the state's version was based on 'objective facts'.
Nel asked yesterday if the South African Paralympian thought that being a world-renowned athlete was an argument for exceptional circumstances and said Pistorius wanted to continue with his life 'as if this incident never happened'.
He said the athlete's 'total lack of insight and willingness to take responsibility for his deeds' increased his risk of fleeing.
He claimed Pistorius' actions that night were indicative of a man ready and willing to fire to kill.
'He fired four shots, not one shot,' he said.
'The only reason you fire four shots is to kill. On his own version, he's bound to be convicted.'
Speaking outside Pretoria Magistrates' Court, Pistorius' coach Ampie Louw said the athlete was heartbroken by his girlfriend's death, telling reporters: 'For me, it's tough to see that. You cannot reach out, sit next to him and say sorry man, this is a terrible accident...'
He said if Pistorius was granted bail, his training would resume, although he will not compete.
'I think that (training) will be a very good thing to do, I think just to get his mind clear,' Louw added.
'The sooner he can start with a bit of work, the better.'
He said it was unlikely the sports star would flee, if given bail, adding: 'He is not going to run anywhere so why not give the guy bail? He must stand trial, and let's do that and get the truth out of it.'
Yesterday a picture emerged, showing the silver 9mm pistol he kept on the bedside table next to his car keys, designer watch and remote controls.
Pistorius' defence argued yesterday he was too famous to flee if released on bail.
The case against Pistorius descended into farce on Thursday, with the detective leading the inquiry replaced after it was revealed that he has been accused of attempted murder.
Hilton Botha is due to appear in court with two other police officers in May, accused of firing shots at a minibus which had seven people inside in October 2011.
Summing up for Pistorius yesterday, defence advocate Barry Roux said poor-quality evidence by Mr Botha had exposed disastrous shortcomings in the state's case.
He said he had been selective with what he said and determined to "bolster the state's case", but could not refute Pistorius' version of what happened, which suggested he was desperate to save her life.
He said there would be widespread shock if the star was not released on bail.