By LIEZL THOM
As Oscar Pistorius’ lawyers prepare to convince the Pretoria High Court that he should be given back his passport, prosecutors have indicated they will oppose the Olympic athlete’s application to have his bail conditions amended.
Pistorius is out on more than $110,000 bail after he was arrested for killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in the early hours of Valentine’s Day. He wants to be able to travel outside the country and have his in-country oversight eased.
As part of the conditions for his release, he may not travel outside South Africa and is prohibited from using alcohol or any banned substances. He may also not return to his home in Silverwoods Country Estate where he shot his model girlfriend.
Last week the athlete’s lawyers filed an appeal in the capital’s High Court arguing that evidence presented at his bail hearing showed he is not a flight risk and should have the option of travelling outside South Africa as long as he has official permission. The appeal said there was “no basis in fact or in law” justifying terms under which Pistorius must be supervised by a probation officer and a correctional official.
As part of the amendments to his bail conditions, Pistorius, 26, wants access to his home as soon as the investigation is complete because he plans to sell the property to raise funds for his upcoming trial. His family has confirmed he also plans to sell his shares in one of his two race horses to cover his mounting legal bills. Pistorius’ finances were dealt a severe blow when his lucrative sponsorship deals with Nike and Oakley were suspended.
Although the South African Police Service would not confirm this, ABC News has learned that the house might become an exhibit during the trial as crime scene clean up operators have been told they will only be allowed onto the premises after the hearing has been concluded.
Magistrate Desmond Nair, who granted Pistorius bail, has to file an answering affidavit with the registrar of the Pretoria High Court before the appeal will be heard. Pistorius does not have to attend this hearing. He’ll be back in the lower court June 4, but it is unlikely that the trial will start before the last quarter of the year.
Prosecutors may ask for another postponement when the case resumes and will only serve an indictment on Pistorius when they are confident they have all the evidence they would need to secure a conviction. A High Court trial date will only be determined once the indictment, which will outline the exact charges against him, has been served.
The man dubbed the “Blade Runner” stands accused of premeditated murder, but authorities have already indicated that at least one other charge, relating to the possession of unlicensed ammunition, will be added to the charge sheet.
The Pistorius family released a statement today aimed at refuting a BBC documentary on the case.
“Oscar Pistorius is in deep mourning but despite the tragic circumstances he is certainly not suicidal, as has been rumoured.
“Oscar, broken as he currently is, believes he has a purpose in life and is working towards that. Media reports to the contrary are untrue,” Arnold Pistorius, Oscar’s uncle, said in the statement.
“While the family doesn’t deny that Oscar’s legal expenses are massive and that he has sold off some of his investments, including his racehorses,” Arnold says Oscar “will evaluate the cost situation on a day-to-day basis and make decisions as required.
“We are acutely aware of the fact that this is only the beginning of a long road to prove that, as we believe, Oscar never intended to harm Reeva Steenkamp. We also realise that the law must run its course, and we respect this process.”