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After nearly a week of court hearings, South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius has been granted bail by a magistrate ahead of his murder trial in the death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
Pistorius is being charged with premeditated murder, since prosecutors do not believe his story that he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder when he shot at her through the bathroom door last Thursday.
According to USA Today, magistrate Desmond Nair took two hours to explain the decision. Nair said that he didn’t believe Pistorius, a double amputee, was a flight risk and noted that the prosecution's evidence was circumstantial.
“The issue is not guilt but whether the interests of justice (are served) in relation to bail,” he explained. “I am not seized with finding beyond reasonable doubt whether he committed premeditated murder…At this stage, I have to examine the facts the state has presented – right now all the state has right now is circumstantial evidence.”
Still, NBC News notes that Nair was not convinced by Pistorius’ story either. “I have difficulty in appreciating why the accused did not ascertain the whereabouts of his girlfriend,” he said, wondering why he never asked who was in the bathroom before he shot at the door.
When Nair announced his decision, Pistorius’ family hugged and prayed in the courtroom. Some in the public gallery were heard yelling “Yes!”
The BBC reports that the trail will begin on June 4.