March 28, 2013 / 11:59 AM / 6 years ago

"Blade Runner" Pistorius gets passport back

Oscar Pistorius's lawyers Barry Roux (L) and Brian Webber prepare documents before the start of the application to appeal some of his bail conditions at a Pretoria court in Pretoria March 28, 2013. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

PRETORIA (Reuters) - “Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius was granted permission to travel abroad on Thursday when a South African judge relaxed bail conditions imposed after the Paralympic and Olympic track star was charged with murdering his girlfriend.

Judge Bert Bam said the 26-year-old, a double amputee who won worldwide fame last year when he reached the semi-finals of the 400m in the London Olympics, could have his passport back and no longer needed to report to a probation officer.

The relaxation of initially tough bail conditions for Pistorius opens up the possibility that he could return to competition this year, including the IAAF World Championships in August.

His agent, Peet van Zyl, said, however, it was too early to say whether Pistorius was in the right shape physically and mentally to return to the track after being charged with murder for shooting dead his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine’s Day.

“We’re not just going to jump now and grab any opportunity to run,” van Zyl said in an interview. “It’s Oscar’s choice. He has got to be up for it. It will be his decision alone.”

After his arrest, Pistorius canceled scheduled appearances in March, April and May in Australia, Brazil, the United States and Britain.

Steenkamp’s murder stunned South Africa and the millions around the world who held Pistorius up as hero who triumphed over adversity to compete with able-bodied athletes at the highest levels of sport.

Prosecutors said he committed premeditated murder when he fired four shots into a locked toilet door, hitting 29-year-old Steenkamp as she cowered on the other side. She suffered gunshot wounds to her head, hip and arm.

Pistorius has said the killing was a tragic mistake and that he had mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder and opened fire in a blind panic.

Reporting by Shafiek Tassiem and Ed Cropley; Writing by Ed Stoddard; Editing by Jane Baird

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