PRETORIA: South African Olympic and Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius was freed on bail on Friday by a magistrate, pending a high-profile trial for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Pretoria magistrate Desmond Nair ruled Pistorius was not a flight risk and did not pose a danger to society after an emotionally charged four-day bail hearing.
“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’s family and supporters in court.
Pistorius later left the magistrate’s court a free man, 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 premeditated murder.
Bail was set at one million rand ($112,770) and Pistorius will have to surrender his passport, firearms and report to Pretoria’s Brooklyn police between 7:00am and 1:00 pm on Monday and Friday.
As the lengthy ruling was read, the 26-year-old stood in the dock weeping and quivering as his family looked on, riven with tension.
Relatives welcomed the decision.
“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 the athlete’s uncle and family spokesman Arnold Pistorius.
“As a family, we know Oscars version of what happened that night, and we know that it is the truth that will prevail in the coming court case.”
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.
It was not immediately clear where Pistorius would go, but he will not return to the Pretoria estate where Steenkamp was killed.