After six hours of proceedings on Friday, Magistrate Desmond Nair granted bail to Oscar Pistorius despite the many “improbabilities” in his version of events leading up to Reeva Steenkamp’s violent death on February 14th.
The final summations from prosecutor Gerrie Nel and defense attorney Barry Roux were as tense as the first three days of the bail application, as a fiery debate arose over how much of a flight risk a world-famous double-amputee with prosthetic legs poses if he were to be released.
Nel said Pistorius has the “money, means and motive” to flee if given bail, and used WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as an example of a well-known person avoiding prosecution by seeking refuge elsewhere.Roux countered by suggesting that even before the murder charge Pistorius caused commotions going through airport security.
Once both parties had rested their cases, the magistrate spoke for two hours, thoroughly expressing his thoughts on all of the factors that he considered in reaching his decision. Most importantly, he said that while the lead detective, Hilton Botha, had made egregious errors in his investigation, the magistrate didn’t believe that it was enough to compromise the prosecution’s case. He also stated that Pistorius’s willingness to hand in his passport combined with his ties to South Africa made him an unlikely flight risk.
Before making his decision known, Nair emphasized the improbabilities in Pistorius’s version of what happened, but said that his willingness to give a detailed account weighed heavily with him. This, combined with the prosecution’s failure to fully establish factors for refusing bail – including proof of access to another home in Italy – meant that he had little choice but to grant it to the runner.
Bail will be set at one million rand, which is less than $115,000 in American funds, with 10% due up front.
Pistorius must also meet the following conditions:
- Appears in court on June 4th, at 8:30 AM.
- Surrenders all passports.
- Refrains from applying for any passports.
- Refrains from entering any airport.
- Surrenders all firearms.
- Refrains from possessing any firearms.
- Refrains from talking to any witnesses for the prosecution.
- Reports to a probation officer from the date of release until the conclusion of the case.
- Informs a correctional official fo all his movements and asks for permission for any journeys outside Pretoria.
- Gives the officer and official a phone number at which he’s reachable day and night.
- Avoids charges with an offence of violence against women.
- Refrains from using drugs or alcohol.
- Refrains from returning to his home and make contact with any residents of his estate except the Stander family.