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    Oscar Pistorius is granted bail, not considered a flight risk

    Oscar Pistorius stood in court on Friday.
    Mike Hutchings/REUTERS
    Oscar Pistorius stood in court on Friday.

    PRETORIA, South Africa — After four days of combative hearings, a South African magistrate Friday granted bail for Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee track star accused of murdering his girlfriend, in a case that has horrified and fascinated the nation and much of the world.

    Magistrate Desmond Nair announced the decision after impassioned final arguments from the defense and the prosecution in Courtroom C of the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court.

    The prosecution claims that Pistorius gunned down his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, 29, a model and law school graduate, on Feb. 14 after she locked herself in a small bathroom in his sprawling home in a gated complex here. Pistorius, 26, says he mistook Steenkamp for a burglar, and expressed deep anguish at her death.


    The prosecution had argued that Pistorius should not get bail because he could flee the country and had a history of violence. But Nair rejected these arguments, saying Pistorius did not represent a flight risk and was not likely to interfere with state witnesses.

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    ‘‘The accused has made a case to be released on bail,’’ Nair said, while the prosecution had not established a case for detaining him.

    Pistorius’s family members in the packed courtroom shouted, ‘‘Yes!’’

    Nair set bail at 1 million rand (about $112,000), an unusually high amount for a murder trial in South Africa, and ordered a series of conditions before the case was adjourned to June 4. Pistorius was told to relinquish firearms and passports and to avoid his home, which is now declared a crime scene.

    Pistorius was also told that he could not make contact with witnesses, leave the Pretoria area without official permission, or use drugs or alcohol while the trial is pending. He was instructed to report to a police station twice a week.


    Arnold Pistorius, an uncle who has been a family spokesman, told reporters: ‘‘We are relieved by the fact that Oscar got bail today, but at the same time, we are in mourning for Reeva Steenkamp and her family.’’

    But Kim Myers, a friend of Steenkamp, said: ‘‘I think it is important to remember that someone lost their life. We trust and hope that justice will prevail.’’

    During a morning session before the bail ruling, Nair seemed skeptical about the risk that Pistorius would flee.

    ‘‘What kind of life would he lead, a person who has to use prostheses, if he has to flee’’ and found himself ‘‘ducking and diving every day’’ on artificial limbs, the magistrate asked.

    ‘‘A life not in prison,’’ prosecutor Gerrie Nel replied.