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Pistorius granted bail


10:58, February 23, 2013

PRETORIA, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- The Pretoria Magistrate's Court on Friday granted bail to paralympian Oscar Pistorius after four days of grilling hearing, citing lack of evidence to do otherwise.

"... I come to the conclusion the accused has made a case to be released on bail," Chief magistrate Demond Nair said to the applause of Pistorius supporters who shouted "yes".

Nair said that from the "circumstantial" arguments the court heard from both sides, he has not found that it has been established that Pistorius "is a flight risk", as alleged by the State.

The bail granted on conditions that Pistorius hand over his passport and report to the local police regularly. Nair set the bail at one million rand (about 11,400 U.S. dollars).

Reading from a lengthy document, Nair recounted the evidence presented by both sides, and looked at the history of bail in South Africa.

He criticised police for making mistakes in the investigation into the murder case, like appointing officer Hilton Botha as chief investigator. Botha himself is facing murder charges and has been replaced.

Nair said Botha did not spend enough time showing that Pistorius had a propensity to commit violence.

To charge Pistorius with a history of violent acts, Botha brought reports of alleged vulgar language and threats and a gun discharged under a table, but did not provide details, Nair said.

Pistorius, known as Blade Runner, was charged with murdering his girl friend Reeva Steenkamp on February 14 in his Pretoria home. But Pistorius denied the charge, saying he shot Steenkamp, mistaking her for a burglar.

During the dramatic four-day hearing, the State argued that Pistorius committed a premeditated murder and would flee the country if granted bail, while the defense argued that the athlete did not intend to kill Steenkamp and was not a flight risk.

The State has failed to prove that Pistorius is a flight risk, Nair said.

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