Nair set bail at $1 million rand ($112,803), and ordered Pistorius to hand over his passport and to avoid contact with witnesses for the prosecution. (Photo : Reuters)
A South African Judge granted alleged murderer Oscar Pistorius bail Friday, letting him await the trial in the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp from his home, The Guardian reported.
Offering an almost two hour explanation for releasing Pistorius on bail, magistrate Desmond Nair said he had concluded the star runner wasn't a flight risk, didn't show "a propensity for violence" and didn't pose a risk to the community, according to USA Today. Nair set bail at $1 million rand ($112,803), and ordered Pistorius to hand over his passport and to avoid contact with witnesses for the prosecution. Pistorius is also not allowed to use "prohibited substances" or alcohol prior to the trial and will be subject to testing, Nair added.
"The issue is not guilt but whether the interests of justice (are served) in relation to bail," Nair said. "I am not seized with finding beyond reasonable doubt whether he committed premeditated murder...At this stage, I have to examine the facts the state has presented - all the state has right now is circumstantial evidence."
Pistorius, a national hero who earned the nickname "Blade Runner" after he ran with "high-tech carbon running blades" at the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in London, is alleged to have shot Steenkamp four times through a bathroom door early the morning of Valentine's Day. Steenkamp was found dead in a pool of blood with four gunshot wounds in Pistorius' home; authorities recovered a 9 mm pistol from the residence, Associated Press reported. He is charged with premeditated murder, what's known as a "section 6 murder charge" in South Africa, the most serious available in the country, according to Yahoo! Sports. If convicted, Pistorius will be sentenced to life in prison. Premeditated murder ensures a mandatory life sentence in South Africa.
The defense argued Pistorius wasn't a flight risk due to his disability. His prosthetic legs "need maintenance and adjustment on a monthly basis," said defense attorney Barry Roux.
"He can never go anywhere unnoticed," Roux added, according to The Guardian.
Pistorius has not denied shooting Steenkamp, but claims the entire incident was a tragic accident. For the first time since he was arrested, the athlete delivered a statement via his lawyers Tuesday proclaiming his innocence.
"I didn't kill Reeva," read Pistorius' statement, according to Yahoo! Sports. "I deny that I committed murder in the strongest point. I tried to save Reeva but she died in my arms. I can't stand how much hurt I've caused."
He added: "I fail to understand how I could be charged with murder, let alone premeditated. I had no intention to kill my girlfriend."
Pistorius contends that he woke up early the morning of Feb. 14 and went to his balcony to get some fresh air, according to the affidavit. When he returned inside Pistorius then noticed a noise that he believed was an intruder coming from the bathroom, and put on his stumps rather than his prosthetic legs. Pistorius claims he felt "vulnerable" with just his stumps on, and was scared because there weren't bars on the bathroom's windows. He then fired four shots through the closed bathroom door, subsequently noticing Steenkamp wasn't in bed. That's when he realized he'd killed Steenkamp, Pistorius says, so he broke through the door with a cricket bat and called for help.
Pistorius has still yet to enter a formal plea in the case. His court date is scheduled for June 4.