Oscar Pistorius granted bail after epic two-hour ruling
Blade Runner must surrender his passport and guns, and will appear in court again in June
OSCAR PISTORIUS today walked out of a South African court after being granted bail as he awaits trial on a charge that he murdered his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
The Paralympic athlete who shot dead the model at his home in Pretoria last week was freed on bail of R1m (£75,000) after a dramatic four-day hearing in which both sides laid out their cases.
However, magistrate Desmond Nair said he was not convinced that investigators had established the murder was premeditated, the Daily Mail reports, and was therefore able to grant bail.
Pistorius must surrender his passport and guns and report to police twice a week. He must not return to the house where the shooting took place or talk to witnesses in the case, and he has been banned from drinking alcohol. His next appearance in court will be in early June.
After the bail hearing itself - which was expected to last just two days - overran there was more exasperation at the length of magistrate Nair's ruling this afternoon. He took almost two hours to reveal that he was allowing the application.
Pistorius sobbed as it became apparent that he would be granted bail, and the family hugged after the ruling was delivered.
Pistorius's brother Carl said the family was "relieved", but he added that it would be "a long road ahead".
The athlete's uncle, Arnold Pistorius, released a statement on behalf of the family: "Although we are obviously relieved that Oscar has been granted bail, this is still a very sad time for the family of Reeva and for us. We are grateful that the magistrate recognised the validity and strength of our application. As the family, we are convinced that Oscar's version of what happened on that terrible night will prove to be true."
The decision came after "three-and-a-half days of dramatic testimony and argument," said the Mail & Guardian newspaper. It added that the sprinter – nicknamed the Blade Runner for his high-tech prosthetic legs - "would focus on the upcoming trial, but may well resume training, even though he is not expected to compete for some time".
Also in court for the ruling was Vineshkumar Moonoo, the most senior detective in the South African police. He has taken over the prosecution case after it emerged that Hilton Botha, who had given evidence against Pistorius during the hearing, was himself facing several charges of attempted murder.
Botha was removed from the case by national police commissioner Mangwashi Phiyega after it was revealed that he and two other officers were to face trial for shooting at a minicab taxi in 2011 when they were apparently drunk.
Botha also performed badly under cross-examination from Pistorius's defence team and was singled out for criticism in Nair's ruling. The magistrate said Botha was guilty of "errors" and had "blundered" over a claim that he found testosterone in Pistorius’s home.
Journalist Daniel Howden tweeted that Botha had been subjected to a "remarkable trashing" by the magistrate. "Will Warrant Officer Botha ever be given another major case to investigate?" asked the Daily Telegraph. ·