Criminal Justice

Sprinter Pistorius is granted bail; magistrate doubts 'ducking and diving' amputee would flee


A South African magistrate has granted bail for Oscar Pistorius, the double amputee runner who is accused of murdering his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day by shooting through a closed bathroom door.

Magistrate Desmond Nair said the prosecution had not established that the athlete was a flight risk, report the New York Times, CNN and USA Today. The state’s case, Nair said, was not so “strong and watertight” that the athlete would conclude he had to flee, according to the Times account.

“What kind of life would he lead, a person who has to use prostheses, if he has to flee” and ended up “ducking and diving every day” on artificial limbs, Nair said during the hearing. The prosecutor, Gerrie Nel, had replied, “A life not in prison.”

Nair said the lead investigator, who has since been removed from the case, had “blundered” in gathering evidence. The prosecution case rested on “nothing more than circumstantial evidence,” although there were “improbabilities that need to be explored,” Nair said. Pistorius has testified he thought he was shooting at a night-time intruder in the bathroom, and didn’t realize his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, was no longer in bed.

Nair set bail at 1 million rand, which is about $112,000, the Times says. The investigator, Hilton Botha, is facing attempted murder charges for allegedly shooting at a minibus while intoxicated, CNN says. Prosecutors reinstated the charges on Feb. 4, USA Today says.

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