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Court grants blade runner Oscar Pistorius bail ahead of sentencing in murder conviction

Pistorius shot Steenkamp to death in his home early on Valentine's Day in 2013.

By: AP | Pretoria |
Updated: December 8, 2015 9:05:09 pm
oscar pistorius, girlfriend reeva steenkamp, oscar's girlfriend, pistorius murder case, court grants bail to pistorius, pistorius gets bail Pistorius arrived in the South African courtroom, where he applied for bail following his conviction for murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. (AP Photo/Herman Verwey, Pool)

Former Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius has been granted bail by South Africa’s highest court after he was convicted of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

The judge granted Pistorius bail and house arrest for his murder conviction, pending sentencing.

Pistorius took his case to South Africa’s Constitutional Court, challenging an appeals court that convicted him of murdering girlfriend Steenkamp, the Olympian’s lawyer said on Tuesday.

Attorney Barry Roux also requested bail for the double-amputee runner in a court hearing in Pretoria, saying stricter conditions including electronic monitoring would be appropriate.

“He is a well-known person, he’s got a disability,” Roux said, arguing that Pistorius would not attempt to flee. “He has abided by all the bail conditions, all the time.”

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel, however, said Pistorius might be a flight risk, considering the severity of his crime and the possibly tough sentence that awaits him, and said conditions for bail should be extremely tight.

“We have an airport that we would not want the accused to get to,” Nel had said. He had also suggested that any movements by Pistorius be restricted with electronic monitoring to a 10-kilometer (6-mile) radius around his uncle’s home, where he is under house arrest.

Pistorius is currently allowed some freedom of movement outside the home. Pistorius was placed under house arrest in October after serving one year of a 5-year prison sentence for the earlier manslaughter conviction.

Pistorius was dressed in a dark suit during Tuesday’s court appearance. His demeanor was calm and he spoke softly with his lawyer and others before proceedings began.

He has rarely been seen in public while under house arrest. Last weekend, a South African newspaper published a photograph of Pistorius sitting in a car. On Nov. 14, a cellphone video emerged of Pistorius reporting to a Pretoria police station as part of his community service. On his 29th birthday last month, a relative tweeted a photograph of a smiling Pistorius surrounded by children.

Pistorius went to the North Gauteng High Court from his uncle’s home, where he has been under house arrest for an earlier manslaughter conviction.

That conviction was thrown out last week by an appeals court that instead determined Pistorius was guilty of the more serious charge of murder.

The former track star’s lawyer did not say on what basis he would be appealing the murder conviction at the Constitutional Court, South Africa’s highest court.

A date for sentencing on the murder conviction has not yet been set.

The minimum sentence for murder in South Africa is 15 years, though a judge can reduce that sentence for what the law describes as exceptional circumstances.

Pistorius shot Steenkamp to death in his home early on Valentine’s Day in 2013.

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