Stephen M. Silverman
February 22, 2013 09:25 AM

Prosecutors in South Africa were defeated Friday in their effort to deny bail for “Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee track star accused of the premeditated Feb. 14 murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius will be released on U.S. $114,000 bail, CNN reports.

Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair announced his decision in a packed Pretoria courtroom Friday afternoon. Over the past four days during the bail hearing, both authorities and Pistorius’s legal team agreed that he killed Steenkamp, 29, but the athlete says he killed her accidentally after he mistook her for an intruder.

In final arguments Friday morning, prosecutor Gerrie Nel, having called the accused a flight risk, told the judge that Pistorius, 26, didn’t deserve bail. CNN reports. “He must realize that long-term imprisonment is almost guaranteed,” said Nel. “He might think he’ll be acquitted.”

The prosecutor also said: “We all know that a lot of important people were granted bail and they stayed in the country. But lots of very important people have escaped.”

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“What kind of life would he lead if he were to flee?” asked the magistrate.

“A life of freedom,” Nel replied.

The judge later said in lengthy remarks leading up to his decision Friday that he did not find that it had been established that Pistorius posed a flight risk. Nair also said that he was aware that releasing the accused could lead to “shock and outrage” in the community.

Entering the courtroom Friday, Pistorius bowed his head, and later appeared to be holding back tears when Nel recounted Steenkamp’s plight on the fateful night, reports The New York Times.

“I am not saying the planning of the murder of Reeva Steenkamp happened weeks ahead, days ahead,” said Nel, according to the newspaper. “I am saying the planning to kill Reeva Steenkamp happened that night.”

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