A judge in South Africa today lifted some bail restrictions imposed on accused murderer Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee track star, allowing him to return home, travel internationally to compete, and drink alcohol.
Pistorius, arrested for the Valentine’s Day shooting death of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, appealed some of his bail restrictions. And although there are no other suspects in the case that has captured much of the world, Judge Bert Bam granted some of his requests.
Bam said Pistorius can travel, but under certain conditions. His passport will be held by a court while he is in South Africa, and he can only leave the country if he provides an itinerary of his travel plans at least a week before he is due to leave. Pistorius must also hand his travel documents back to the court within 24 hours of returning home.
The ruling in a North Gauteng High Court opens the way for the Paralympic champion, who is facing a life sentence if found guilty of murder, to run in international competitions again. Pistorius’ agent told The Associated Press that this year’s world championships in Moscow in August could be “on the radar.”
“Based on this (judge’s decision), and if he is up for it and qualifies, the world championships will definitely be on the radar,” Peet van Zyl told the AP by telephone.
The judge’s decision was “fair,” Van Zyl said, but any return to competition would be up to Pistorius, who hasn’t run competitively since September or trained for two months.
“He’s going to be the one that determines running and training,” the agent said. “It’s his call. He’s the one under all the pressure for the court case and grieving for Reeva.”
Pistorius, a South African hero widely known as “Blade Runner” for his prosthetic legs, did not attend the court session.
“He has no desire to compete now, but it might change and it will change,” defense lawyer Barry Roux told the judge in arguments for some of the bail restrictions to be eased. Roux said Pistorius would not try to evade trial if he is allowed to travel internationally, and would eventually need to run again “to earn an income.”
“He is not going to run away and hide. He is going nowhere,” Roux said.”Why stop him from traveling under controlled circumstances?”
The judge also ruled in favor of Pistorius on three other bail restrictions.
He no longer has to be regularly supervised by a probation official and a ruling that he was not allowed to consume alcohol and could be tested at any time for alcohol and ”prohibited substances” was lifted.
Bam also slammed one of the bail orders imposed by another court, saying a condition that Pistorius would be in breach of his bail if he was merely accused of another crime against women was ”fraud.” It went against Pistorius’ constitutional right to be innocent until proven guilty, Bam said.
Pistorius says he killed Steenkamp accidentally when he fired shots through a door in his bathroom in the predawn hours, fearing there was an intruder in his house. Prosecutors say he shot the model and reality TV star intentionally after they argued, and they have charged him with premeditated murder.