Oscar Pistorius 'not suicidal' says his family

Posted: 03/11/13 at 11:05 am EDT      Last Updated: 03/11/13 at 1:26 pm EDT

JOHANNESBURG (AP) -- Olympian athlete Oscar Pistorius, charged with the Valentine's Day murder of his girlfriend, is not suicidal, his family announced Monday.

Pistorius "is in deep mourning but despite the tragic circumstances he is certainly not suicidal," said a statement issued by Pistorius' uncle, Arnold Pistorius. He said Pistorius has support from his family.

"From the moment we were first informed about the dreadful event of the early morning of 14 February 2013, we have worked hard to come to terms with the sad news of Reeva Steenkamp's death and Oscar's role in it," said the uncle.

"Oscar, broken as he currently is, believes he has a purpose in life and is working towards that," said Arnold Pistorius.

The family's denial comes after reports that Pistorius was distraught and contemplating taking his life. Reports also said that Pistorius is facing financial ruin over the upcoming murder trial.

"The family doesn't deny that Oscar's legal expenses are massive and that he has sold off some of his investments, including his racehorses," said the statement. "Oscar will evaluate the cost situation on a day-to-day basis and make decisions as required."

The family statement came as Pistorius' lawyers filed an appeal in a South African court against bail restrictions imposed on the disabled athlete, according to papers released by the Pistorius family on Monday.

"The conditions appealed against are unwarranted and not substantiated by the facts," said the appeal, which was filed Friday in Pretoria, the South African capital.

State prosecutors said they would contest the Pistorius appeal, though a court date on the matter had not yet been set.

"As the state, we are going to oppose that application," said Medupe Simasiku, regional spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority, to The Associated Press.

The appeal reflected the robust defense strategy of lawyers for Pistorius, who has been staying at his uncle Arnold's home in a Pretoria suburb since he was released on bail on Feb. 22.

It is a delicate balance because the Pistorius family has also sought to keep a low profile, expressing sorrow for the death of Steenkamp. Pistorius says he mistakenly shot Steenkamp, thinking she was an intruder in his home. Prosecutors argue he killed her intentionally after an argument.

AP received a copy of the court papers by email from representatives of the Pistorius family. The appeal was prepared by Ramsay Webber, a legal firm based in Johannesburg.

In the papers, lawyers for the double-amputee athlete argued against the requirement that he surrender all passports and travel documents, and refrain from applying for such documents pending the end of his case.

The lawyers said evidence presented at the athlete's bail hearing showed he is not a flight risk and should have the option of traveling outside South Africa as long as he has official permission.

The appeal also said there was "no basis in fact or in law" justifying terms under which Pistorius must be supervised by a probation officer and a correctional official.

Officials will visit Pistorius at his uncle's home at least four times a month, according to James Smalberger, chief deputy commissioner of the department of correctional services, who spoke to The Associated Press last month.

"He's not under house arrest, but his movements need to be known to us so that we don't pitch there and he's not there," Smalberger had said. "We agree on `free time' normally during the course of the day, and in the evening we expect him to be home."

The appeal against the bail conditions also objected to the requirement that Pistorius refrain from using alcohol or any banned substance, even though he had no intention of doing so.

"The mere use of any substance with alcohol in it will give rise to a transgression of the wide condition imposed," the appeal said.

In addition, the runner should be allowed access to the property at Silverwoods Country Estate where he shot Steenkamp, once the state completes its investigations there within a "reasonable time limit," according to Pistorius' legal camp.

"A blanket restriction on speaking to residents is unfair" and infringes on Pistorius' rights to consult people on the estate to prepare for his trial, the appeal said.

Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair had set bail at 1 million rand ($113,000). The 26-year-old track star was also ordered to turn in any guns he owns, and cannot leave the district of Pretoria without his probation officer's permission.

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