The prayers of Oscar Pistorius’ family appear to have been heard as a South African court released him on bail.
The Olympic and Paralympic star was unmoved as a judge ruled he was too famous to flee from the charge of murdering his girlfriend.
Nonetheless he set bail at 1 million rand (85,000 euros).
The decision follows a week of dramatic testimony about how Pistorius shot dead model and law graduate Reeva Steenkamp at his luxury home near Pretoria in the early hours of Valentine’s Day.
Under the terms of his bail, Pistorius, 26, was also ordered to hand over firearms and his two South African passports, avoid his home and all witnesses, report to a police station twice a week and abstain from drinking alcohol.
The bail decision drew cheers from the athlete’s family and supporters.
Criminologist Laurie Peter said: “I feel it was the right thing to do in the first place. It would have been difficult for the state to ensure his health and security in prison and keep him safe.”
But many others viewed the ruling as a sorry reflection of womens’ rights in South Africa, where violence against women is endemic.
“We are saddened because women are being killed in this country, How many women have been killed in six years? 2488 women. Femicide is a problem.” said Jacqui Mofokeng, a spokeswoman for the ruling African National Congress’ Women’s League, whose members stood outside the court this week with banners saying “Rot in jail.”
Prosecutors claim Pistorius committed premeditated murder when he fired on Steenkamp. He says it was a tragic mistake as he panicked, thinking she was an intruder.
The case will now be heard on June 4.