Paralympian Oscar Pistorius challenges bail conditions

PRETORIA (AFP) - South African Paralympian Oscar Pistorius, accused of murdering his girlfriend on Valentine's Day, is seeking to have his bail conditions relaxed so that he can travel abroad, a report said on Friday.

eNCA news channel said lawyers for the sprint star will ask for his ban on foreign travel to be lifted, along with mandatory drug and alcohol tests.

The lawyers argue that Pistorius - who says the shooting of Reeva Steenkamp was a tragic accident - is not a flight risk.

The papers requesting an easing of the bail conditions were reportedly filed with the North Gauteng High Court on Friday.

Pistorius's lawyer Kenny Oldwage refused to comment.

Pistorius, 26, has also reportedly asked for the "blanket ban" on talking to residents of his gated community to be lifted and for him to be able to return to the house were Steenkamp was shot.

The papers were reported to say that "there is no desire by the appellant to use any prohibited substance or alcohol" but that the condition was unfair.

They asked that he be allowed to travel internationally, with police permission.

Pistorius's agent Peet Van Zyl said he was not aware of Pistorius's desire to travel, adding that his participation in overseas competitions had been cancelled.

He also said that Pistorius had not restarted training.

The athlete was granted bail on Feb 22 after paying a bond of one million rand (S$137,000).

Prosecutors have charged Pistorius with the premeditated murder of his 29-year-old girlfriend and he is due back in court in June.

The double-amputee admits shooting Steenkamp repeatedly through a locked bathroom door, but says he mistook her for an intruder.

Steenkamp's family is meanwhile mulling legal action against the sprinter, their lawyer said on Friday.

Attorney Mike Venter said a civil claim was being considered against him.

But a source close to the family said no decision had yet been taken.

The Steenkamp family have kept a low profile since their daughter's death amid a media frenzy over the case.

A detective who bungled the initial investigation into the case resigned on Wednesday.

Mr Hilton Botha was one of the police force's most experienced detectives, with a 22-year career as a policeman.

But during Pistorius's bail hearing last month, his evidence was repeatedly picked apart by the defence.

He admitted in court that the investigation "could have been handled better", conceding that he may have contaminated the crime scene and that his team failed to spot a bullet lodged in the toilet.

It then emerged that he was facing charges of attempted murder for shooting at a minibus in 2011.

He was promptly replaced as the chief investigator in the Pistorius case by South Africa's top detective.

Mr Hilton insisted on Thursday that he resigned because he had found a better paying job, and not because of the case.

He gave further views of the investigation in a radio interview.

"The crime scene was dealt with very professionally, that's what I think," he said, yet complained that he did not get enough support at the onset of the probe.

He said he felt he was left to "hang out to dry and I was on my own for a while and when someone came to help it was almost too late".

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