South Africa judge lifts travel ban on Oscar Pistorius

South Africa judge lifts travel ban on Oscar Pistorius

POSTED: Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 10:00am

UPDATED: Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 10:04am

South African track star Oscar Pistorius, charged with murder in the slaying 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 his typed court order.

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.

Roux argued at the hearing that Pistorius was "not insensitive and it's not that he wants to jump on a plane and leave South Africa."

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.

The Olympic and Paralympic sprinter, 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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