Pistorius gets bail, appealing against murder verdict

Pistorius leaving the courtroom in Pretoria after he was granted bail yesterday. He will appeal against his conviction for the murder of his girlfriend, and could face a 15-year jail term if that fails.
Pistorius leaving the courtroom in Pretoria after he was granted bail yesterday. He will appeal against his conviction for the murder of his girlfriend, and could face a 15-year jail term if that fails.PHOTO: REUTERS

He remains under house arrest; likely to be re-sentenced early next year

PRETORIA • Former Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius was released on bail yesterday, after his conviction for his girlfriend's murder, as his lawyers said they would lodge an appeal against the verdict.

Pistorius, 29, will seek to appeal against his murder conviction at the constitutional court, defence lawyer Barry Roux told the high court in South Africa's capital Pretoria. If that fails, he could face a 15-year jail term.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said that while the state accepted his right to appeal, there was no basis for a successful legal challenge.

"The case is postponed until April 16, 2016. The applicant is released on bail of 10,000 rand (S$970)," Judge Aubrey Ledwaba told the Pretoria High Court.

As Pistorius stood in court, Judge Ledwaba told him the bail conditions meant that he must remain under house arrest at his uncle's home - where he has been serving part of a previous five-year term for culpable homicide since October - and that he is subject to electronic monitoring, and cannot travel more than 20km from the home.

Judges last week found him guilty of murder and overturned his earlier conviction on the lesser charge of culpable homicide for shooting dead his girlfriend Reeva Steen-kamp in 2013.

Pistorius killed the 29-year-old model and law graduate at his home in Pretoria, saying he mistook her for an intruder when he opened fire four times through the locked door of his bedroom toilet.

The South African Supreme Court of Appeal changed his conviction to murder and sent the case for re-sentencing, saying the original trial judge had made "fundamental" errors in her ruling last year.

The appeal decision, read by Judge Eric Leach, said it was "inconceivable that a rational person could have believed he was entitled to fire at this person with a heavy-calibre firearm".

The appeal decision, read by Judge Eric Leach, said it was "inconceivable that a rational person could have believed he was entitled to fire at this person with a heavy-calibre firearm". No date has been announced for his re-sentencing, which is expected early next year.

Pistorius was released from jail into house arrest in October after serving one year of his sentence for culpable homicide - the equivalent of manslaughter.

His lawyers had earlier said he could not afford further legal battles after paying huge bills.

Since the Feb 14, 2013 shooting, Pistorius has lost sponsorship deals with companies including Nike and Luxottica Group's Oakley.

After an eight-month trial and several appeals, he cannot afford bail of more than 10,000 rand, Mr Roux said.

Known as the "Blade Runner" because of his J-shaped prosthetic blades, Pistorius won six Paralympic gold medals and was the first double-amputee runner to compete at the Olympic Games. He was born without the fibula in both legs, which were amputated when he was 11 months old.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 09, 2015, with the headline 'Pistorius gets bail, appealing against murder verdict'. Print Edition | Subscribe