PRETORIA (Reuters) - Oscar Pistorius, who murdered his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013, was granted bail on Tuesday and has the freedom of South Africa’s capital Pretoria as he waits to appeal his conviction in April.
The Paralympic champion, nicknamed “Blade Runner” because of the prosthetic legs he uses to race, was granted bail of 10,000 rand ($686), after spending the last two months under house arrest at his uncle’s home in a wealthy Pretoria suburb.
Pistorius had been meant to serve the rest of a five-year sentence there but the Supreme Court upgraded the 29-year-old’s conviction to murder from culpable homicide last week. He will appear in court on April 18 to give an update on his appeal at the constitutional court.
He faces a minimum 15-year sentence for shooting Steenkamp in a case that has fascinated and divided South Africa, a country beset by high levels of violent crime.
Rights groups say the white track star has received preferential treatment.
On Tuesday, South African High Court Judge Aubrey Ledwaba said Pistorius could leave the house between 7 a.m. (12 a.m. ET)and noon and, with permission from the authorities, travel within a radius of 20km (12 miles).
Pistorius has been ordered to hand in his passport and wear an electronic tag.
When he was arrested in 2013, Pistorius had to set aside bail of 1 million rand, but on Tuesday he argued for a reduced amount, saying his means had diminished.
“I have lost all my assets and only possess my personal assets,” he said in his written bail application.
“I have no income, but will continue to seek employment ... It was difficult to obtain employment due to my conviction and correctional supervision conditions.”
Pistorius lost millions of dollars in endorsements and sponsorships, after reaching the pinnacle of his fame in London 2012 when he became the first double amputee to run in the Olympics, reaching the 400-metres semi-finals.
Pistoruis, who also said in his application that he had enrolled in a correspondence course for a degree at the London School of Economics, was dressed in a black suit and tie and appeared calm during the proceedings.
There was no immediate comment from Steenkamp’s family. Barry Steenkamp, Reeva’s father, welcomed the murder conviction last week, saying “it was a fair decision”.
Pistorius’ lawyer Barry Roux said the appeal would cite grounds including the appeal court reconsidering a trial court finding that Pistorius felt his and Steenkamp’s life were in danger when he fired the shots.
Writing by James Macharia; Editing by Louise Ireland