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Oscar Pistorius bail decision due in Pretoria court

A South African judge is hearing the final arguments over whether Oscar Pistorius, accused of murdering his girlfriend, should be freed on bail.

BBC

The Paralympic sprinter denies murder, saying he shot Reeva Steenkamp thinking she was an intruder at his home.

His defence says contradictory evidence given by a detective has undermined the prosecution’s case.

The prosecution, however, argues there is a risk Mr Pistorius may abscond and bail should be refused.

There are fears that a ruling may now not come until Monday, says the BBC’s Andrew Harding, in court in Pretoria.

In his closing argument, lead prosecutor Gerrie Nel said that Oscar Pistorius’s version of events was “improbable” and there was a clear risk he would flee if granted bail.

He said the athlete’s statement to the court suggested he thought “I’ve done nothing wrong” as there was no admission of culpable homicide.

Oscar Pistorius knows he is “almost guaranteed” to serve a long term in prison, and he should not be treated differently because he is famous or because he has a disability, the prosecutor added.

There was a break in proceedings before the defence was to begin its final argument.

The athlete hopes to resume training next week if he is granted bail, his coach Ampie Louw said as he arrived at court.

If denied bail, he could face months in prison before a full trial begins later this year.

On Thursday, police replaced their lead detective in the case, Hilton Botha, after it emerged he faced attempted murder charges.

South Africa’s most senior detective, Lt Gen Vineshkumar Moonoo, will now take charge of the investigation.

Prosecutors say Mr Pistorius fired four shots through a locked toilet door as Ms Steenkamp cowered on the other side. She was hit in the head, arm and hip.

The athlete – dubbed the “Blade Runner” for his prosthetic limbs – insists he was acting in self-defence.

On Thursday, lead defence lawyer Barry Roux said contradictory evidence given by Det Botha had undermined the prosecution’s case.

Mr Roux added that the “known forensics is consistent” with the sprinter’s version of events, and asked for the charge of premeditated murder to be downgraded.

On Thursday, it was revealed that Det Botha faced seven counts of attempted murder.

He is expected to appear in court in May in connection with a 2009 incident in which he and other officers opened fire on a minibus taxi whose driver apparently disobeyed an order to stop.

He has not been suspended and could remain a potential witness in any trial of Mr Pistorius.

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