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South African court clears Oscar Pistorius for international travel

Pistorius, who stands accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, is due back in court on 4 June.

Image: Themba Hadebe/AP

Updated 11.30

A SOUTH AFRICAN court has cleared sprinter Oscar Pistorius for international travel, easing stringent bail conditions imposed on him for killing his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day.

“I find that the magistrate’s decision not to grant the appellant his passport to travel abroad was wrong,” Judge Bert Bam told the High Court in Pretoria today.

The 26-year-old’s passport must be handed to his attorney and the “applicant be allowed to use his passport outside South Africa,” Bam said.

Pistorius was also given the go-ahead to return to his Pretoria home where he shot dead Reeva Steenkamp, in what he claims was an accidental shooting but which the state argues was premeditated murder.

The double amputee Paralympic champion was contesting his strict conditions of his ZAR1 million (€84,000) release on bail ahead of his return to court in June.

Lawyers for Pistorius, who was not present at today’s appeal hearing, told the court that he was not a flight risk.

“Why would this athlete go to a country without extradition and go and hide?” lawyer Barry Roux asked, saying the bail terms were tantamount to “house arrest”.

Pistorius, who last year became the first double amputee to compete against able-bodied athletes in the Olympics, has cancelled upcoming competitions and has not restarted training, according to his agent Peet Van Zyl.

But Roux said Pistorius wants to be able to go abroad under controlled circumstances if he needs to for income purposes.

“It is not as if the appellant is travelling for holiday in Mauritius; it’s only to gain an income, there’s no other reason,” Roux said.

His next court appearance is scheduled for 4 June, but the prosecution said they were not sure trial would start on that date.

- © AFP, 2013

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