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OSCAR Pistorius could be deemed at risk of fleeing justice by the South African legal system because the athlete, who is on trial for murder, has sold all his properties in the country.

Ahead of this week's verdict in his trial for shooting dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, Pistorius has sold three homes for millions of rand.

As a result, judge Thokozile Masipa may conclude the runner could seek to go on the run from the law, having cut his ties with his bricks and mortar assets.

That is because owning property is seen by the justice system as being an effective guarantor of a defendant's conduct as it can be confiscated in the event of them seeking to evade justice.

Fallen star Pistorius, 27, is due to find out this week if he is guilty or innocent of murdering Steenkamp in a Valentine's Day bloodbath at one his luxury homes.

Off-loading the three properties - including the one in which Steenkamp was gunned down - has pocketed him enormous amounts of cash.

However, he took a big hit on the residence in Silverwoods Estate, Pretoria, where the shooting happened by being forced to sell it for 4.5m rand (£258,000) - only two thirds of its normal value.

Considering what Masipa shall weigh up when considering whether to grant bail to Pistorius between the trial verdict and any sentence, lawyer Ulrich Roux told The Times: "The argument is of course that the temptation to flee is so much stronger when a convicted person is possibly faced with a lengthy period of imprisonment."

Roux said no longer owning any property in South Africa could see Pistorius jailed on remand because: "Not having any fixed property makes it easier for a person to flee as there is no risk of losing the said property and suffering substantial financial losses.

"The fact that he placed on record that he owned four properties and was in a strong financial position, as well as his access to funds through other means, will all be considered. Any proceeds derived from the sale of the properties will be considered accordingly."

Two other properties in another gated community in Pretoria have been recently sold by Pistorius for 1m rand (£57,457) and 1.03m rand (£59,181).

Pistorius' total legal bill for advice since Steenkamp's death in 2013 is an estimated 3m rand, which is the most likely reason why the former track star has been selling his properties.

It is expected he would have spent a significant sum on lawyers once Thursday's verdict has been announced at North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. His lead defence lawyer, Barry Roux, charges up to 85,000 rand (£4,885) a day.

Masipa is due to deliver the trial verdict on Thursday 11 September. Pistorius denies murder and a string of firearms charges. - agencies





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