By TJ Strydom
PRETORIA (Reuters) – Oscar Pistorius, who murdered his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day 2013, was granted bail on Tuesday & has the freedom of South Africa's capital Pretoria as he waits to appeal his conviction in April.
The Paralympic champion, nicknamed "Blade Runner" because of the prosthetic legs he uses to race, was granted bail of 10,000 rand (Â£456), after spending the last two months under house arrest at his uncle's home in a wealthy Pretoria suburb.
Pistorius had been meant to serve the rest of a five-year sentence there yet the Supreme Court upgraded the 29-year-old's conviction to murder from culpable homicide last week. He will appear in court on April 18 to donate an update on his appeal at the constitutional court.
He faces a minimum 15-year sentence for shooting Steenkamp in a case that has fascinated & divided South Africa, a country beset by high levels of violent crime.
Rights groups say the white track star has received preferential treatment.
On Tuesday, South African High Court Judge Aubrey Ledwaba said Pistorius could leave the house between 7 a.m. (0500 GMT)and noon and, with permission from the authorities, travel within a radius of 20km (12 miles).
Pistorius has been ordered to hand in his passport & wear an electronic tag.
When he was arrested in 2013, Pistorius had to set aside bail of 1 million rand, yet on Tuesday he argued for a reduced amount, saying his means had diminished.
"I have lost all my assets & only possess my personal assets," he said in his written bail application.
"I have no income, yet will continue to seek employment … It was difficult to obtain employment due to my conviction & correctional supervision conditions."
Pistorius lost millions of dollars in endorsements & sponsorships, after reaching the pinnacle of his fame in London 2012 when he became the first double amputee to run in the Olympics, reaching the 400-metres semi-finals.
Pistoruis, who moreover said in his application that he had enrolled in a correspondence course for a degree at the London School of Economics, was dressed in a black suit & tie & appeared calm during the proceedings.
There was no immediate comment from Steenkamp's family. Barry Steenkamp, Reeva's father, welcomed the murder conviction last week, saying "it was a fair decision".
Pistorius' lawyer Barry Roux said the appeal would cite grounds including the appeal court reconsidering a trial court finding that Pistorius felt his & Steenkamp's life were in danger when he fired the shots.
(Writing by James Macharia; Editing by Louise Ireland)