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Pistorius freed on bail

AFP-JIJI

South African Paralympic icon and Olympian Oscar Pistorius was freed on bail Friday, pending a high-profile trial for shooting dead his girlfriend.

Pretoria magistrate Desmond Nair ruled the “Blade Runner” was not a flight risk and did not pose a danger to society after an emotionally charged four-day bail hearing that transfixed South Africa and the world.

“I come to the conclusion that the accused has made a case to be released on bail,” Nair said to cries of “yes!” from Pistorius’ supporters in court.

Pistorius later left the court in a silver sports utility vehicle flanked by photographers and cameramen on motorbikes.

It was a first victory in what is expected to be a long legal battle with the state, which accuses Pistorius of the premeditated murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

Bail was set at 1 million rand ($112,800) and Pistorius will have to surrender his passport and firearms, as well as report to Pretoria’s Brooklyn police between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. Mondays and Fridays.

As the two-hour ruling was read, the 26-year-old stood in the dock weeping and quivering as his family looked on, riven with tension. Following the magistrate’s decision, Pistorius was escorted to the holding area sobbing uncontrollably, as his brother Carl hugged sister Aimee and the broader family huddled in prayer.

“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,” said Arnold Pistorius, the athlete’s uncle and family spokesman. “As a family, we know Oscar’s version of what happened that night, and we know that it is the truth that will prevail in the coming court case.”

Pistorius will head to a relative’s house rather than return to the Pretoria estate where Steenkamp was killed. “He doesn’t want to go back to the house,” said his attorney, Barry Roux.