A judge on Thursday eased the unusually tight bail restrictions on Oscar Pistorius, the double amputee Olympic runner who is accused of murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Feb. 14 in one of the most sensational cases in South Africa’s recent judicial history. Ms. Steenkamp’s body was found in a locked bathroom at Mr. Pistorius’s home in a gated compound in Pretoria, the South African capital. Prosecutors accused him of killing her in an act of premeditated murder. But defense lawyers depicted the shooting as a tragic accident when Mr. Pistorius, 26, believed an intruder had entered his upscale home where Ms. Steenkamp, 29, a model and a law school graduate, was spending the night, and fired through the bathroom door. She was hit by at least three bullets.
The prosecution had argued that Mr. Pistorius should not get bail because he could flee the country and had a history of violence. But on Feb. 22, a Pretoria magistrate, Desmond Nair, rejected these arguments, saying that Mr. Pistorius did not represent a flight risk and was not likely to interfere with state witnesses.
The magistrate imposed strict terms on the $110,000 bail, forbidding Mr. Pistorius from traveling abroad and from drinking alcohol. He was also told he was not allowed to visit his home, where the shooting took place, and was required to ask permission to leave Pretoria, where he lives.
On Thursday, Judge Bert Bam said the restrictions imposed by the magistrate were unfair and unwarranted. Judge Bam said Mr. Pistorius was “entitled to use his passport to travel outside” South Africa and no longer needed to report to a probation officer.
While he is in South Africa, his passport will be held by a court and he will be required to provide detailed travel plans at least a week before any departure.
The ruling could enable Mr. Pistorius to compete again at international track meets, although his lawyer, Barry Roux, said on Thursday that he had “no desire” to compete in the near future, according to news reports. But Mr. Pistorius might wish to compete again to earn a living, the lawyer said. Many of Mr. Pistorius’s lucrative sponsorship deals were suspended after the shooting of Ms. Steenkamp.
Mr. Pistorius did not attend the bail hearing. On Feb. 22, he was ordered to return to court on June 4.
“He is not going to run away and hide,” Mr. Roux said. “He is going nowhere.”
The case drew fascinated attention in South Africa and around the world. Mr. Pistorius and Ms. Steenkamp had been depicted on the celebrity circuit as a kind of golden couple, and she had just embarked on a new line of work, starring in a reality television show.
Until the shooting, Mr. Pistorius had been cast as emblem of triumph over adversity, competing not just in last year’s Paralympic Games in London but also running against able-bodied athletes at the Olympics.
Mr. Pistorius was born without fibula bones and underwent double amputation below the knee as an infant. He competes using distinctive carbon-fiber running blades, which inspired the nickname Blade Runner.