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Oscar Pistorius Granted Bail Pending Trial For Alleged Murder Of His Girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp

by 22/02/2013 06:58:00 0 comments 1136 Views
Oscar Pistorius Granted Bail Pending Trial For Alleged Murder Of His Girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp

Oscar Pistorius was granted bail Friday pending his trial for the alleged murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

Olympic and Paralympic star Pistorius, dubbed the “Blade Runner,” maintains he did not realize Steenkamp was in the locked bathroom of his home in a suburb of Pretoria, South Africa, and fired through the door in a panic over a possible prowler.

However, prosecutors say the 26-year-old committed the “premeditated murder” of Steenkamp, 29, a model and trained lawyer.

On the fourth day of his bail hearing Friday, Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair told the court he had decided Pistorius could be freed ahead of the trial.
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Earlier prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the court that “one must stretch” to believe Pistorius’ account of what happened in the shooting early on Valentine’s Day.

'It's not true'
And he questioned why Steenkamp would have stayed silent.

“Why would she not have shouted, 'Where are you (Oscar)? What's going on?’” Nel said. “She did not say a word, she did not scream, she did nothing! I think that's improbable ... It's not true!"

In a statement read to the court on Tuesday, Pistorius described waking up and and going to his bedroom balcony to bring a fan inside and close the sliding glass doors and blinds. After hearing a noise in the bathroom, the double-amputee said he felt "a sense of terror" and feared a prowler was in the house.

Pistorius' account added:

    "I fired shots at the toilet door and shouted at Reeva to phone the police. She did not respond and I moved backwards out of the bathroom, keeping my eyes on the bathroom entrance. Everything was pitch dark in the bedroom and I was still too scared to switch on a light. Reeva was not responding.

    "When I reached the bed, I realized that Reeva was not in bed. That is when it dawned on me that it could have been Reeva who was in the toilet."

The prosecutor argued Friday that the runner’s attitude to the case had been “I’ve done nothing wrong.”

Nel said he was “not saying the murder of Reeva Steenkamp was planned days in advance, weeks in advance,” but certainly earlier that night.

He also questioned why someone who was concerned about burglaries would sleep with open doors and windows.

Nel claimed Pistorius did not understand the seriousness of the alleged offence and appeared to think it was “business as usual.” He suggested this meant the athlete was a flight risk.

However, Nair asked “what kind of life would Pistorius lead if he flees, given his protheses?”

“Exactly” muttered someone in the court’s public gallery.

The prosecutor mentioned WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange -- currently in Ecuadorian Embassy in London, England, after skipping bail -- as a well-known person who cannot be extradited.

"His facial features are as well known as Mr. Pistorius' prostheses," Nel said.

Assange is sought for questioning in Sweden over alleged sexual offenses. After a court in London decided he should be extradited, Assange fled to the embassy.

Defense lawyer Barry Roux told the court that Pistorius should at most be charged with culpable homicide, which is the unlawful, negligent killing of someone under South African law.

He said “intent” to possibly kill a burglar could not be transferred to become intent to kill Steenkamp.

Roux said Pistorius would not be able to flee the country unnoticed. If he went through security at an airport "the system would react."

The lawyer added that Pistorius would not skip bail, saying that his prosthetics needed adjustment every month and that he also required medication for his stomach.

The arrest of Pistorius stunned millions who watched in awe last year as the sprinter reached the semi-final of the 400 meters at the London 2012 Olympics.

In South Africa, Pistorius was seen as a rare hero who commanded respect from both blacks and whites, transcending the racial divides that persist 19 years after the end of apartheid.

Police investigating Pistorius pulled their lead detective off the athlete's case on Thursday after it emerged he himself faces attempted murder charges for shooting at a minibus.

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