|Pistorius Cleared to Leave Country|
|By ANTHONY CASTELLANO (@AntCastellano)||Mar 28, 2013, 3:18 AM|
A South African judge has eased the bail restrictions on Oscar Pistorius, who is accused of murdering his girlfriend, paving the way for the Olympic sprinter to leave the country and compete in competitions.
Judge Bert Bam says the international athlete known as "Blade Runner" must provide authorities with his travel plans at least a week before he leaves the country. He must also return his passport to the court within 24 hours of returning to South Africa
Pistorius, 26, says he shot girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, 29, by accident, mistaking her for an intruder on Valentine's Day. For now, Pistorius stands accused of premeditated murder. His next court appearance is scheduled for June 4.
Pistorius, who was not at the bail hearing in Pretoria, was granted bail Feb. 22 for about $113,000.
His lawyer Barry Roux said that the original bail restrictions imposed on Pistorius amounted to "house arrest." Prosecutors said they opposed any relaxing of the bail restrictions.
Roux said Pistorius has no desire to return to the track now, but "this might and this will change." He said Pistorius should be allowed to travel for international meets under "controlled" circumstances, where he would require advanced permission from police and would have to give details of his travel schedule before he left South Africa.
The judge ruled that Pistorius could return to his luxury home, where Steenkamp was killed. Under the bail conditions set last month, Pistorius was also not able to return home as long as it was deemed an active crime scene.
The state alleges that Pistorius deliberately shot and killed Steenkamp in a fit of rage, but he claims he thought there was an intruder hiding behind the bathroom door when he opened fire. When he realized it was his girlfriend, he tried to resuscitate her but it was already too late, according to his affidavit, read aloud in court during the four-day bail hearing last month.
Meanwhile, Steenkamp's family members are reportedly considering filing a civil suit against the Paralympian, but for now, they're keeping a low profile as they continue to mourn the loss of their daughter.
It has been a busy week for the Pistorius family. Pistorius' older brother, Carl, pled not guilty Wednesday for the culpable homicide of a female motorist outside Johannesburg in 2008. The judge adjourned the trial until next week so the family's lawyer could focus on Oscar Pistorius' hearing.
ABC News' Liezl Thom and The Associated Press contributed to this report.