Photo: Stephane de Sakutin/AFP
The judge in the Oscar Pistorius trial just released the sprinter on bail.
The judge laid the groundwork for his decision very carefully, going into an extreme amount of detail on almost every conceivable issue. His was presumably fully aware of how controversial it will be.
The judge, Nair, said he was not fixated on determining now whether Pistorius committed “premeditated murder,” the crime he has been charged with. The judge said what is important is for state to put forth facts that establish a reasonable possibility of premeditated murder. And the judge believes the state has done that.
This statement seemed at many points to lay the groundwork for the judge to refuse bail.
The judge took a 5-minute break in the middle of reading his verdict.
The judge said that if the defence had shown the case to be weak, this would call for Pistorius to be granted bail.
The judge also addressed the clumsy investigator who gave incorrect answers on the stand (later challenged by the defence) and missed evidence at the scene. This investigator has since been dumped from the case. The judge blasted the investigator for his mistakes. He ran through a list of stupid decisions the investigator made, as well as ideas and concepts the investigator should have followed up on at the scene. The judge further said it was only the defence’s aggressive questioning of the investigator that forced him to concede that he had made mistakes.
The judge defended the investigator on one count: The judge said that there may be other reasons for the bladder of the victim, Reeva Steenkamp, to have been empty other than that she voluntarily and normally went into the the bathroom to go to the bathroom. He also said the investigator should not be considered an expert on that.
Importantly, the judge said that, while the investigator had to admit mistakes, the investigator is not the state’s case. The judge pointed out that the state quickly appointed a more senior officer to take control of the case.
The judge said he did not agree with the defence position that because the investigator was clumsy, the state’s case is weak.
The judge said he considered many factors in his bail decision in addition to the evidence that has thus far been presented (and had no choice but to do so.)
The judge cited “improbabilities” in Pistorius’s story. He said he had difficulty understanding why Pistorius did not try to verify who was in the toilet, along with many other aspects of Pistorius’s story. For example, the judge said he has difficulty understanding why Pistorius would have slept on the opposite side of the bed that night than he normally does. The judge cited many other problems he has with Pistorius’s story.
“The defence has failed to show this court that there’s a weakness in the state’s case [that rises to the level required] to show an exceptional circumstance,” the judge said.
Similarly, the judge said, the state has not shown that the case against Pistorius is rock solid.
The judge also said the state has not shown enough evidence to prove that Pistorius had a pre-existing propensity to commit violence.
In the end, the judge decided that Pistorius’s case represented “exceptional circumstances” and granted the sprinter’s bail request.
Here’s a live feed of the hearing:
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