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South Africa judge lifts travel ban on Oscar Pistorius

South Africa judge lifts travel ban on Oscar Pistorius
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Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 4:19pm

South African track star Oscar Pistorius, charged with murder in the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, is once more allowed to travel overseas after a judge lifted a bail condition Thursday restricting his movements.

Judge Bert Bam said that Pistorius' passport could be held by his attorney, Barry Roux, instead of the court and that he was entitled to use it to travel outside South Africa.

Bam said he saw no reason why Pistorius "should be forbidden to leave South Africa if invited to compete overseas."

Pistorius should report his itinerary a week before leaving and hand his travel documents back over to his lawyer within 24 hours of returning to South Africa, Bam said at Pretoria's North Gauteng High Court.

The athlete may also now drink alcohol and return home to the scene of the crime, he ruled.

Bam said the magistrate who imposed the original bail restrictions last month had not included the prohibition on Pistorius returning to his home or a requirement that he report to a police station twice a week in the written court order he signed.

This means those provisions, which the magistrate only mentioned verbally in court, should be ignored, Bam said.

The new order represents a victory for the athlete's legal team, which went to court to request more lenient terms for his bail.

The lifting of the travel ban could mean that the Olympic and Paralympic sprinter would return to international competition ahead of his trial.

If Pistorius qualifies for the Moscow World Championships in August, "then on the basis of the 'innocent until proven guilty' principle, he would be free to run," Yannis Nikolaou, communications manager for the International Association of Athletics Federations, told CNN via e-mail.

Invitations are at the discretion of meeting organizers, not the IAAF, he said. The IAAF will not comment on the case against Pistorius, he added.

Premeditated murder charge

The athlete's lawyers argued in their appeal filing that since Pistorius was not considered a flight risk, the restrictions on his travel were unnecessary.

They also argued that since alcohol and substance abuse were not factors in the case, the ban on their use was not warranted. Pistorius had no desire to use alcohol or illegal drugs, they added.

Authorities charged Pistorius with premeditated murder after he shot Steenkamp in the bathroom of his Pretoria home on February 14.

Pistorius, who spent eight days in jail before being freed on bail on February 22, did not attend Thursday's hearing.

State prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the court Thursday that he plans to serve Pistorius with an indictment on June 4.

No trial date has yet been set.

Pistorius, known as the "Blade Runner" for competing on carbon fiber blades fitted to the stumps of his amputated legs, says he thought Steenkamp was an intruder.

Prosecutors argue that he intentionally killed her after a loud argument.

 

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