Pistorius Granted Bail After Prosecution Is Criticized For Sloppy Case

A South African magistrate on Friday approved bail for Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius in the run-up to his trial on charges of premeditated murder in the killing of his girlfriend.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block. Oscar Pistorius is free on bail. That's after a dramatic four-day hearing that's gripped South Africa. The star athlete with two prosthetic legs is accused of murdering his girlfriend. And the bail hearing was a tense battle over whether the killing was premeditated murder or a tragic accident. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports now on today's bail decision by the magistrate.

SOUTH AFRICAN MAGISTRATE DESMOND NAIR: Reaching out in the affidavit in the way that he did, placing it before the court, together with the fact that none of the factors that need to be established have been established, I come to the conclusion that the accused has made a case to be released on bail.

OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: That was the ruling today in a Pretoria courtroom by Magistrate Desmond Nair. It concluded three days of intense and often emotional testimony from Oscar Pistorius' defense team and the prosecution, including apparent blunders by the lead police investigator who has been taken off the case. Pistorius is facing a charge of premeditated murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, who was shot dead in his home last week. The double amputee sprint champion maintains he shot her by accident thinking she was an intruder.

Pistorius sobbed as his affidavit was read out in the court this week, saying he cradled a dying Steenkamp in his arms. The magistrate said there was little chance of Pistorius absconding.

NAIR: He resided in the Republic of South Africa all his life and he frequently travels abroad to participate in international sporting events. He regards South Africa as his permanent place of abode. He has no intention to relocate to any other country.

QUIST-ARCTON: The magistrate appeared to criticize the prosecution for not having a watertight case in opposing bail. He implied that the lead investigator had been sloppy, failing to establish a history of violence in Pistorius, or even that he had a propensity for violence. The athlete's uncle, Arnold Pistorius, spoke to journalists outside the courthouse and remembered his nephew's dead girlfriend.

ARNOLD PISTORIUS: Yes, we are relieved at the fact that Oscar got bail today. But at the same time, we are in mourning for the death of Reeva with her family. As a family we know Oscar's version of what happened at that tragic night and we know that that is the truth. And that will prevail in the coming court cases.

QUIST-ARCTON: But others are not pleased that Pistorius has been released on bail.

JACKIE MISSILKING WOMEN'S LEAGUE OF SOUTH AFRICA: It's a disappointment to us. We'll stand together as women and we'll fight for every black, white, red woman, it doesn't matter what.

QUIST-ARCTON: Jacki Missilking from the Women's League of South Africa's governing African National Congress.

AFRICA: Women are killed in this country. How many women have been killed? In six years, 2488 women (unintelligible).

QUIST-ARCTON: Pistorius is facing strict bail conditions. Bail was set at $110,000. He must report to the police every Monday and Friday, surrender his passports and firearms and is not allowed to communicate with witnesses or visit his home where he shot dead his girlfriend, nor can he travel outside South Africa. His next court appearance is scheduled on June 4. Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR News, Dakaar.

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