Oscar Pistorius: Bail Decision Imminent

The eyes of the world are on a court in South Africa as a judge prepares to announce whether to grant Oscar Pistorius bail.

Chief magistrate Desmond Nair spent an hour outlining various legal positions before calling a break without revealing his decision.

He has now returned to the highly-charged courtroom where he will give his verdict on whether to the athlete should be released from custody.

He said it has not been established by the prosecution that Pistorius is a flight risk.

The star is accused of shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp dead, and prosecutors have warned that the star has the "money, means and motive" to flee South Africa if he is given bail.

At times, he has sobbed loudly and shook as the judge read out his lengthy statement.

Sky's Alex Crawford said his siblings Carl and Aimee looked "utterly bereft" at their brother's pain, as he cried.

The judge read out some of Pistorius' affidavit, in which he gave his version of the events on the night.

"During the early morning hours of 14 February 2013, I woke up, went onto the balcony to bring the fan in and closed the sliding doors, the blinds and the curtains," it read.

"I heard a noise in the bathroom and realised that someone was in the bathroom.

"I felt a sense of terror rushing over me. There are no burglar bars across the bathroom window and I knew that contractors who worked at my house had left the ladders outside."

"I fired shots at the toilet door and shouted to Reeva to phone the police. She did not respond and I moved backwards out of the bathroom, keeping my eyes on the bathroom entrance.

"Everything was pitch dark in the bedroom and I was still too scared to switch on a light. Reeva was not responding."

While trying to persuade the judge that Pistorius is a flight risk, Gerrie Nel compared the case to that of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

"His face is well-known all over the world and he's sitting in an embassy in London," he said.

He also suggested that Pistorius could also consider changing his facial appearance to avoid being recognised.

In a closing statement, Mr Nel said that Pistorius' version of events was "improbable" and that the level of violence used was "horrific".

He added that the athlete - who has often cried during proceedings - was feeling sorry for himself, and feared that his career was over.

His defence said the offence he faces should be culpable homicide, adding: "He did not want to kill Reeva."

He also said it was difficult for Pistorius to disappear because of his disability.

Earlier, his coach Ampie Louw said that if the athlete is granted bail, he will start training again next week.

Members of Miss Steenkamp's family are also in court for the hearing.

On Thursday, police were forced to pull their lead detective off the athlete's case after it emerged he himself faces attempted murder charges for shooting at a minibus .

Defence lawyers for Pistorius say the athlete shot dead his girlfriend by a terrible mistake, and deserves bail to prepare for his case.

They say the case has been marred by a bungled police investigation.

The 'blade runner', whose lower legs were amputated in infancy, is said to have killed model Reeva Steenkamp, 29, in the early hours of St Valentine's Day at his home.

Prosecutors have told the court it was a premeditated murder, with Pistorius firing four shots through a locked toilet door at Ms Steenkamp on the other side.

She was hit in the head, arm and hip.

Witnesses said they heard gunshots and screams from the home in a gated community surrounded by three-metre-high stone walls and an electric fence.

Pistorius contends he was acting in self-defence.

He says he mistook Ms Steenkamp for an intruder and felt vulnerable because he was unable to attach his prosthetic limbs in time to confront the threat.

The 26-year-old said he grabbed a 9-mm pistol from under his bed and went into the bathroom.

Pistorius described how he fired into the locked toilet door in a blind panic in the mistaken belief that the intruder was lurking inside.

Bail hearings in South Africa allow for prosecutors and defence lawyers to lay out their basic arguments, based on preliminary evidence.

The arrest of Pistorius stunned millions who watched in awe last year as the Olympic and Paralympic sprinter reached the semi-final of the 400m in the London Olympics.

The impact has been greatest in sports-mad South Africa, where Pistorius was seen as a rare hero who commanded respect from both blacks and whites, transcending the racial divides that persist 19 years after the end of apartheid.


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