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article image'Suicidal' Oscar Pistorius files papers to leave South Africa

By Yukio Strachan     Mar 11, 2013 in Sports
Pretoria - After reports emerged Sunday that Oscar Pistorius was "on the verge of suicide," lawyers for the Olympian sprinter are returning to court to seek lighter bail terms that would allow Pistorius to drink alcohol and travel overseas.
State prosecutors said Monday that they would contest Pistorius's appeal to have his bail conditions amended, South Africa's News 24 reported.
"As the state, we are going to oppose that application," said Medupe Simasiku, regional spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority, to The Associated Press.
Pistorius was arrested and charged with premeditated murder in the killing of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in the early hours of Valentine’s Day.
Prosecutors say he intended to kill Steenkamp as she cowered in fear behind the locked bathroom door after a loud argument between the two.
The 26-year-old track star doesn't deny killing the model and law school graduate at his Pretoria home last month, but said he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder. He described "a sense of terror rushing over" him and feeling vulnerable because he stood only on his stumps before opening fire, the AP writes.
He was released on $113,000 bail last month after Magistrate Desmond Nair agreed with his lawyers that he wasn't a flight risk.
"I come to the conclusion that the accused has made a case to be released on bail," Nair said.
The conditions for his release include:
• Bail of 1 million rand (£74,000; $113,000) paid in cash up front, and proof the rest is available
• Must turn in passports and any guns that he owns
• Prohibited from drinking alcohol or taking drugs
• Cannot leave Pretoria without permission from probation officer, nor can he return to his home in Silverwoods Country Estate--where the shooting happened.
• Must report to police station between 07:00 and 13:00 every Monday and Friday
Now, his lawyers argue that the evidence presented at his bail hearing showed he is not a flight risk and should have the option of traveling outside South Africa as long as he has official permission.
The appeal filed on Friday in the capital’s High Court said there was “no basis in fact or in law” justifying terms under which Pistorius must be supervised by a probation officer and a correctional official.
The appeal against the bail conditions also objected to the requirement that Pistorius refrain from using alcohol or any banned substance.
"The mere use of any substance with alcohol in it will give rise to a transgression of the wide condition imposed," the appeal said.
In addition, the runner should be allowed access to the property at Silverwoods Country Estate where he shot Steenkamp, once the State completes its investigations there within a "reasonable time limit", according to Pistorius's legal camp.
"A blanket restriction on speaking to residents is unfair" and infringes on Pistorius's rights to consult people on the estate to prepare for his trial, the appeal said.
The surprising move comes after reports said that Pistorius was distraught and contemplating taking his life.
"He has no confidence in his tone of voice and he is almost like someone that is walking around in circles and doesn't know where he is going," Pistorius family friend Mike Azzie said in a new BBC3 documentary airing tonight, "Oscar Pistorius: What Really Happened?"
"I would say that, just speaking to him, that he is a broken man and that I would go as far to say that he would be on the verge of suicide. It really worries me." Azzie said.
***Update: His family has just announced that Pistorius is not suicidal.
Pistorius "is in deep mourning but despite the tragic circumstances he is certainly not suicidal," said a statement issued Monday by Pistorius' uncle, Arnold Pistorius, according to ESPN. He said Pistorius has support from his family and is spending time reading the Bible.
Pistorius is due back in the lower court June 4, but it is unlikely that the trial will start before the last quarter of the year, ABC news reported.
More about Oscar pistorius, Reeva Steenkamp, Bail, Premeditated murder, Suicide
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