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Pistorius Released on Bail

Track star/murder suspect is "not a flight risk"

Magistrate Desmond Nair granted bail for Oscar Pistorius, the South African amputee track star accused of murdering his girlfriend last week.

Nair said that, after four days of hearings, it was evident that Pistorius did not represent a flight risk and wasn't likely to interfere with state witnesses. Still, Nair set Pistorius's bail at 1M rand, or about $112,000, and put a series of tight restrictions on him. Until the murder trial begins on June 4, Pistorius must hand over his firearms and passports, avoid using drugs and alcohol, avoid all contact with witnesses and avoid his home, which is now considered a crime scene. In addition, he can't leave the Pretoria area without official permission, and he's required to report to a police station twice a week.

Before handing down his ruling, Nair revisited the four days of conflicting arguments by the prosecutors and Pistorius's lawyers. In particular, he focused on the poor police work and weak arguments of the prosecution's lead investigator, Detective Warrant Officer Hilton Botha, who was removed from the case yesterday when it was revealed that he himself was facing seven charges of attempted murder. Nair said that Botha had made "several errors and concessions" and "blundered" in gathering evidence.

He added that Botha's embarassing cross-examination may have "tarnished" the evidence he gathered, but that it shouldn't hurt the state case, which will be built over the next three and a half months. At the same time, the state case wasn't so strong that Pistorius wouldn't necessarily feel he had to flee.

"The only person who knows what happened there is the accused," Nair said. But, "I cannot find that it has been established that the accused is a flight risk."

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