Oscar Pistorius has been released on bail to await his murder trial, which will begin on 4 June. The South African Paralympics star is accused of shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. His defence is that he mistook her for an intruder in their Pretoria home.
Pistorius was ordered to surrender all his weapons and told he couldn’t return to the house as conditions of his 1 million rand (£73,000) bail. Magistrate Desmond Nair said, "I come to the conclusion that the accused has made a case to be released on bail,” adding that he welcomed Pistorius’s detailed affidavit which "reached out to meet the state's case".
The magistrate also accepted there was little possibility of Pistorius attempting to flee. "Mr Pistorius, every time he goes through security at airport, there's commotion," the athlete’s defence attorney pointed out. "He cannot go unnoticed through airport security. He can never go anywhere unnoticed."
Nair’s summing up leaned heavily on the credibility of the investigating officer Hilton Botha. Botha has now been removed from the investigation after it emerged that he himself faces several charges of attempted murder for firing at a minibus. The magistrate pointed out that the detective had made "several errors and concessions" during cross-examination.
The detective’s mistakes could form the basis of the defence case, with Pistorius’s lawyers eager to dismiss testimony from a witness who claimed he heard arguments from the house, and ambiguous evidence about mobile phone calls made after the shooting. Nair pointed out that the prosecution was far more substantial than just Botha. "It can never be said that warrant officer Hilton Botha is the state case. The state case will be put together by experts."
Pistorius will remain in Pretoria in the interim, no doubt the focus of intense media interest. His coach, Ampie Louw, suggested Pistorius might return to training in order "to get his mind clear".