Inside court: Pistorius bail verdict
- 22 February 2013
- From the section Africa
South African Olympic and Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius has denied intending to murder his girlfriend on the night she was shot and killed at his home.
Tweeting from the courtroom, the BBC's Andrew Harding(@BBCAndrewH) described the atmosphere in court as Magistrate Desmond Nair outlined the cases for the prosecution and defence, and eventually granted Oscar Pistorius bail.
Back at the courthouse. Bleary-eyed journalists and a tangible sense of anticipation for #OscarPistorius bail ruling.
Badges not wristbands for journalists at #OscarPistorius trial today.
Am back inside courtroom. Same seat again as luck would have it. Surely we must get a bail decision on #OscarPistorius today...
Negotiating possible live tv coverage of #oscarpistorius judgment.
#OscarPistorius coach in court. Says he hopes to start training next week if bail granted.
#OscarPistorius coach - we can start training Monday. He's heartbroken... It will be v good thing to.. To get his mind cleared.
Coach is Ampie Louw. Grey haired, burly, soft-spoken. Been working with #OscarPistorius for 9 years. Says massive support from athletes.
Scrum of elbowing photographers pressing up against our seats, poised to take pix of #OscarPistorius if he arrives here before magistrate.
#OscarPistorius uncle and sister arrive in court.
Prosecution team in court for #OscarPistorius.
#OscarPistorius defence team and father now in court. A hush. And in comes the athlete.
#OscarPistorius looking calm. Head bowed.
Photographers asked to leave. #OscarPistorius court official says live audio of proceedings now allowed.
#OscarPistorius magistrate asks Nel to continue prosecution arguments. Page 12...
Nel focuses on #OscarPistorius affidavit saying athlete to blame for any interpretation put on statement. "Danger on his shoulders."
Nel: #OscarPistorius affidavit shows athlete thinks "I've done nothing wrong" - no admission of culpable homicide.
Nel: that is why we say increases flight risk on bail.
Nel: #OscarPistorius acting like business as usual by wanting passport back after bailed. "It cannot be business as usual."
Nel: Reeva in toilet - why did she not shout "what's going on?.. Improbable" version from #OscarPistorius who now fighting sobs behind me.
Nel: we agree #OscarPistorius cried at scene. But is it because he feels sorry for himself cos thinks career over?
Nel: back to neighbourhood witnesses to arguments. Prosecution repeating itself now.
Nel: barricaded herself in toilet either to escape fight or gun. Either way he planned to kill.
Magistrate asks why #OscarPistorius did not move furniture etc to make it look more like it was burglary if that was truly his plan.
Nel: #OscarPistorius so convinced he's in danger... Why didn't he look elsewhere in house apart from bedroom for her after shooting?
Nel: I don't have to answer these questions. #OscarPistorius does.
Nel: losing his way a little.
Nel: not saying #OscarPistorius didn't make phone calls after shooting.
Nel: on available evidence #OscarPistorius illegally in possession of ammunition - even if it is his father's.
Nel: suspicious about #OscarPistorius claim that he only slept that one night on other side of bed.
Nel: stresses #OscarPistorius walked past her side of bed 3 times.
Nel: detective not expert re ballistics angles but he was eyewitness and his version not challenged.
Nel: put yourself in deceased position. Must have been terrifying. Not 1 or 3 shots. No. 4 shots.
Nel: #OscarPistorius always talking about "me... Please protect me..." Re covering up prior threats and incidents.
Nel: #OscarPistorius threatened people. Not disputed.
Nel: concedes #OscarPistorius might be acquitted. Lots of people think that... But lots of important people skip bail.
All interesting stuff here but starting to feel repetitive now. Sense that court anxious to get to ruling on #OscarPistorius bail.
#OscarPistorius dabs eyes with tissue.
Nel: #OscarPistorius version of events improbable. State case based on objective facts. I think he's a flight risk.
Magistrate: what kind of life would he lead if he skipped bail? Nel: a life of freedom. Magistrate: but ducking and diving every day...
Nel: if somebody with disability commits a crime we have to treat him differently? Courts cannot be seen to treat famous people differently.
Nel sits down. Now defence Roux stands. But short break announced.
Magistrate: harder to hide from international man hunt if u have prosthetic legs.
Court back in session. Roux talking for defence. #OscarPistorius
In break defence team told me they are frustrated by slow pace of bail hearing and worry ruling may be delayed till Monday.
Roux says if he were prosecuting he'd argue for culpable homicide not murder.
Roux: state can't transfer intent to kill from burglar to Reeva. Has to stick to one version and argue that. Lots of legal jargon.
Roux: state case that #OscarPistorius meant to kill Reeva, not burglar. Court must deal with that charge.
Discussion about how long between shooting and #OscarPistorius telling someone "I thought it was burglar" - enough to plan coverup? Unclear
Roux: firearm in bathroom. It's where I expect it to be in that frantic moment. Then grab phone.
Roux: prosecution acknowledging culpable homicide is "far cry" from premeditated murder in reference to bail conditions.
Roux: on going to open front door. Has to because security man he called is on way and wants to let him in. Nothing improbable.
Roux: on flight risk - he cannot go unnoticed through airport security with prosthetic legs. Legs and stumps need constant attention too.
Arguments over. Magistrate thanks both for professional manner. Nair says ruling at 2.30 pm
Courts are oddly intimate arenas. Am now in queue at cafe with #OscarPistorius relatives.
Defence team refuse to be drawn on predicting bail. "Gambling is for casino."
Yet to meet anyone who thinks #OscarPistorius won't get bail. Prosecution simply pushing defence to reveal their case before full trial.
Colleague in #OscarPistorius court tells me toxicology reports for South African court cases have 7 year backlog.
Magistrate's #OscarPistorius ruling could take an hour to deliver. Am told he has a habit of quoting Shakespeare.
#OscarPistorius back in court for last appearance at this bail hearing. Looks calm.
This is going to take some time. Nair planning to run through all details. First talking about decision on media access.
This is a little painful. Everyone in court straining for a judgement. Wheels of justice etc.
Nair: photographers confronting #OscarPistorius in court "raises picture that accused is some kind of species that world not seen before."
Nair now talking about decision to allow #OscarPistorius to stay at police station not prison.
Nair: quick summary of #OscarPistorius argument in favour of bail.
Nair: #OscarPistorius avers that state has no objective facts to claim murder.
As Nair recounts shooting #OscarPistorius eyes closed struggles to contain emotions.
Can almost sense #OscarPistorius reliving events behind closed eyes as Nair describes shooting.
Shoulders shaking now. Suppressing heavy sobs.
Nair rattling through pages now.
Nair still summarising #OscarPistorius bail arguments.
Nair summarises witness statements of growing love between #OscarPistorius and Reeva.
Nair: ends summary of #OscarPistorius evidence. Now on to prosecution and detective botha's version.
Nair: state planning to charge #OscarPistorius with possession of unlicensed ammunition.
Three sketch artists busy working on portraits of #0scarPistorius. No cameras allowed to record his reaction when bail ruling comes.
Nair: detective conceded that defence version of shooting angle and position could be true.
Nair: detective could not deny postmortem info re reeva's empty bladder and defence conclusions from that.
Temperature in packed courtroom rising fast. Every inch of floor space occupied. Chatter of keyboards.
Nair gives a brief history of SA bail legislation. Plenty of detail for law students.
Nair: on question of premeditated murder: not my task to judge but state only has circumstantial evidence.
Nair is now onto case law about "exceptional circumstances."
Brief break and we are back with magistrate's detailed judgement on #OscarPistorius
Nair still outlining context of judgement but no hint yet which way it will go for #OscarPistorius
Nair: detective botha's credibility... He made several errors and concessions. Failed to ask for cellphones or check records.
Nair: Botha could have done more to see if #0scarPistorius had tendency towards violence.
Nair: weighing into detective Botha now.
Nair: Botha blundered on testosterone claim.
Nair: Botha didnt check about #0scarPistorius call to emergency services.
Nair: Botha better on cartridge details.
Nair: Botha admitted witnesses couldn't see where noises came from. His sense of distance "astonishing." 300 or 600m or less?
I sense Nair building up to granting bail... Then again...
Nair: satisfied with botha's scepticism about #OscarPistorius rushing to bathroom despite feeling "vulnerable."
Nair: botha's concessions don't mean he agrees with defence case.
Nair: can never be said that Botha is state's case. Only his evidence tarnished. Not state's case.
Nair: cannot agree that concessions and credibility of (lowly) detective means state case not strong. Dealing with circumstantial evidence.
Nair: impossible for state to have all pieces of puzzle now. I need to guess into future.
Nair: questioning why #OscarPistorius didn't check if Reeva in bed. And have problem with why he would venture into danger.
Nair: defence failed to show weakness in state case to point of being exceptional circumstance.
Nair: difficulty with #OscarPistorius version about sleeping on other side of bed. Improbabilities to be explored.
Nair: now on chances #OscarPistorius might jump bail. Athlete looking gloomy.
Nair: but state equally cannot show its case watertight.
That was a big list of "difficulties" Nair has with #OscarPistorius story.
Nair: sceptical about prosecution arguments that #0scarPistorius would "duck and dive" jumping bail to avoid culpable homicide.
Nel: I cannot find that it is established #0scarPistorius is flight risk
Nel: #0scarPistorius has shown aggression in past but not same as convictions or charges.
Nair sips water. #OscarPistorius family look drained.
Nair: no grounds for denying bail on claims of violent past for #OscarPistorius
Nair could hardly have done more to make #OscarPistorius and everyone else here sweat.
Nair: would release on bail cause public outrage? Seems not.
Defence accepts conditions.
So sense of relief on his face. Just raw emotion. A few smiles and tears then hugs from relatives.
#OscarPistorius will stay at undisclosed location. Will not leave SA. Hand in passports. Report to police station Monday and Friday.
Conditions: 250 thousand rand bail. No return to his home. No contact with residents there.
Magistrate now back in court. Prosecutor says agreed on bail conditions. Rush to sort it all out.
Magistrate: asks #OscarPistorius to stand. Says bail 1 million rand.
Magistrate ups bail sum dramatically. 100 thousand to be paid in cash.
4th June next court appearance for #OscarPistorius
#OscarPistorius not allowed near any airports. Surrenders all firearms. No communication with prosecution witnesses.
#OscarPistorius to submit to probation officer and correctional officer.
#OscarPistorius must get permission for any journey outside Pretoria.
#OscarPistorius available on mobile phone at all times to probation officer
No drugs or alcohol for #OscarPistorius
#OscarPistorius says yes your worship when asked if understands by magistrate. His only words in court today.
Short statement from uncle - relieved but mourning for Reeva.
Strange, flat mood now. Such a build up. Such a sense of drama. Now realisation that it was just bail hearing and a long battle lies ahead.