Murder-accused Pistorius wins bail

Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Oscar Pistorius stands in court during his bail hearing (AP) Oscar Pistorius stands in court during his bail hearing (AP)

Oscar Pistorius has been granted bail as he awaits trial for the killing of his girlfriend.

Supporters could be heard saying "yes", and members of the athlete's family wept and appeared to pray after chief magistrate Desmond Nair announced his decision following a 90-minute speech to the court in Pretoria.

"Blade Runner" Pistorius, 26, is accused of murdering 29-year-old model Reeva Steenkamp at his home last week but claims he shot her through a bathroom door thinking she was an intruder. Realising his mistake, he broke the door down with a cricket bat and carried her downstairs, he claims.

During the lengthy hearing, Pistorius was obviously emotional, sobbing as Mr Nair summed up the evidence the court has heard, including the Paralympian's own account of what happened when he opened fire.

Granting bail to the athlete at Pretoria Magistrates' Court after a four-day hearing, Mr Nair, who previously described his task as "unenviable", said there was no suggestion that Pistorius was a flight risk, he did not appear to have a propensity to violence, and there was no evidence that he would interfere with witnesses.

He said Pistorius had "reached out" in his affidavit describing what had happened, and - pausing before he delivered his final decision to the packed courtroom - said: "I come to the conclusion that the accused has made a case to be released on bail."

Pistorius himself was reported as bursting into tears after the decision was announced. Bail was fixed at one million rand (£73,822) including 100,000 rand (£7,382) in cash. Pistorius must surrender any firearms and his passport and cannot enter any international departure hall. He is also banned from using any prohibited substance or alcohol. The case was adjourned until June 4.

Speaking on behalf of Pistorius' family, his uncle Arnold told reporters: "We are relieved of the fact that Oscar got bail. But at the same time we are in mourning for the death of Reeva with her family.

"We are also grateful for the magistrate for coming to the conclusion and for our legal team that has delivered extremely professional and legal statements that led to the decision of giving bail. As the family, we know Oscar's version of what happened that tragic night and we know that that is the truth and that will prevail in the coming court case."

Speaking outside court, Medupe Simasiku, from South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), told reporters: "The bail application does not mean that this person is acquitted." He said there was more work to be done and, when the court meets again on June 4, they will have a better idea of when a trial can be held.

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