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Prosecutor Gerrie Nel Continues Arguments Against Bail As Oscar Pistorius Hearing Continues

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Oscar Pistorius stands during his bail hearing at the magistrate court in Pretoria, South Africa, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013.
Oscar Pistorius stands during his bail hearing at the magistrate court in Pretoria, South Africa, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013.

PRETORIA, South Africa -- The fourth and likely final day of Oscar Pistorius' bail hearing opened on Friday, with the magistrate then to rule if the double-amputee athlete can be freed before trial or if he has to remain in custody over the shooting death of his girlfriend.

The prosecution is expected to complete its arguments opposing bail. The defense rested on Thursday, and Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair can issue a ruling on bail at any time after arguments finish.

Pistorius is charged with one count of premediated murder over the Feb. 14 killing of Reeva Steenkamp. He says the shooting was accidental because he thought she was a dangerous intruder inside his home.

Steenkamp's Valentine's Day killing has seized the world's attention and there was intense focus Friday on if Pistorius would be released, and if so, with what conditions.

Pistorius' hands trembled as he said "good morning, your worship" as the court session began in Pretoria Magistrate's Court, in South Africa's capital.

Pistorius' longtime coach Ampie Louw said before proceedings began that he is considering putting his runner back in training if he is granted bail to allow him to "get his mind kind of clear."

Louw said he realizes that the Olympic athlete might not be emotionally ready to give any thought to running.

"The change is that he is heartbroken, that is all," Louw said in the courtroom, surrounded by reporters and television cameras. "For me it is tough to see that. Not to be able to reach out and sit next to him and say `sorry, man, it was a terrible accident.' But I cannot do it, I must just sit here in court and that's all.

"The sooner he can start working the better." said Louw, who was the person who convinced the double amputee to take up track as a teenager a decade ago.

Nair will decide if Pistorius is freed with conditions or if he is held until trial. Pistorius faces the sternest bail conditions in South Africa because of the seriousness of the charge, meaning his defense lawyers have to prove there is an "exceptional" reason for him to be freed.

He has been held at a police station in Pretoria since last week, but suspects who are denied bail are typically held in a prison.

Defense lawyer Barry Roux argued on Thursday that the evidence backs up Pistorius' statement that he shot through a toilet door at his home because he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder, killing her by accident.

"I think there will be a level of shock in this country if he is not released (on bail)," Roux said in court.

Opposing bail, prosecutor Gerrie Nel argued Pistorius was too willing to shoot. The prosecution says Pistorius planned to kill his 29-year-old girlfriend, a model and budding reality TV star, after an argument in the early hours of Valentine's Day.

"The reason you fire four shots is to kill," Nel said.

Louw said he might put Pistorius – who overcame the amputation of his lower legs as a baby to compete at last year's London Olympics – back on a morning and afternoon training routine if he is freed, believing it might help him to be able to run track again.

"You must give him space," the coach said.

___

AP Sports Writer Gerald Imray contributed to this report from Johannesburg.

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