Oscar Pistorius tweets thanks on first day out on bail

PRETORIA (AFP) - South African Paralympic icon and murder suspect Oscar Pistorius on Saturday said he was thankful for prayers offered to his family and that of his slain girlfriend, a day after he was freed on bail.

"Thank-you to every person that has prayed for both families, Osca" read a tweet posted by his brother Carl, in the track star's first public reaction, outside of his court appearances, since his arrest for the Valentine's Day killing of Reeva Steenkamp.

The Olympic "Blade Runner" was spending his first day out on bail with his family pending trial for the killing of his lover.

Pistorius was freed on a record one million rand ($112,770) bail on Friday after eight days in custody and an emotionally charged four-day bail hearing.

"I would like Oscar to just compose himself and to have a normal day," his uncle Arnold Pistorius told the local Eyewitness News.

He will return to court later this year when a date will be set for trial for having shot dead his model girlfriend and law graduate Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day.

When contacted by AFP, his father Henke Pistorius declined to say how his son had slept at his uncle's house in Pretoria.

But a source close to the family told AFP late Friday that "the family just want time together. They haven't thought about anything except being together." Pistorius claims he repeatedly shot at and killed his lover by mistake thinking she was a burglar.

Steenkamp's grieving parents, however, did not appear convinced.

"It doesn't matter how rich he is and how good his legal team is. He needs to live with himself if he lets his legal team lie for him," her father Barry told the Afrikaans-language daily Beeld.

Pistorius has assembled some of the best legal brains in South Africa to defend his case.

"He'll have to live with his conscience. But if he's telling the truth, I may forgive him one day," Steenkamp's father said.

But "if it didn't happen as he described it, he should suffer. And he will suffer ... only he knows."

Pistorius's family has sent flowers and a card to the Steenkamp family, but "what does that mean? Nothing," said June, Reeva's mother.

In addition to the bail cash he posted Friday afternoon, which experts say is among one of the highest ever set in South Africa, Pistorius had to surrender his passport and his firearms. The magistrate quadrupled the bail amount that initially had been proposed by the state.

He will have to report twice weekly to Pretoria's Brooklyn police on Mondays and Fridays. He was also ordered not to take alcohol or drugs.

Pistorius may also on Saturday hold talks with his trainer to get back on the track, despite being banned under his bail terms from competing outside South Africa.

"He is a professional athlete. He needs to keep his body in shape," the family source said.

His arrest on February 14 shocked the world and gripped South Africa, where he became a national hero after becoming the first double amputee to compete in the Olympics last year.

The state charged him with the premeditated killing of 29-year-old Steenkamp.

If found guilty he faces a possible life sentence.

Just hours before the magistrate's decision to release Pistorius on bail, arguing he was not a flight a risk and did not pose a danger to the public, defence lawyer Barry Roux appeared to concede that the star sprinter could be convicted on a lesser charge of culpable homicide.

That charge, which entails negligence rather than murderous intent, can carry a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.

The prosecution meanwhile said it was confident it had evidence to convict Pistorius.

Winning a bail application "doesn't mean an acquittal", said spokesman for the prosecution Medupe Simasiku. "We still believe we have evidence to convict Oscar Pistorius."

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