Pis­to­rius re­ports for first com­mu­nity ser­vice

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

PRE­TO­RIA: Os­car Pis­to­rius re­ported yes­ter­day for his first day of com­mu­nity ser­vice in the South African cap­i­tal Pre­to­ria as part of his pa­role con­di­tions af­ter be­ing re­leased from jail three weeks ago. The Par­a­lympian ath­lete was al­lowed out of prison af­ter serv­ing one year of his fiveyear sen­tence for killing his girl­friend Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of Valen­tine’s Day, 2013. Pis­to­rius, 28, ar­rived at Gars­fontein po­lice sta­tion in Pre­to­ria, driven by his sis­ter Aimee, and de­clined to speak to wait­ing re­porters. He is serv­ing the rest of his sen­tence un­der house ar­rest at his un­cle’s home in the city. In his first ap­pear­ance in pub­lic since his release, he walked into the po­lice sta­tion wear­ing sun­glasses and a white T-shirt, and car­ry­ing a back­pack. The dis­graced sprinter was found guilty last year of cul­pa­ble homi­cide-a charge equiv­a­lent to man­slaugh­ter-af­ter telling his trial that he shot Steenkamp through a bath­room door be­cause he mis­took her for an in­truder. His pa­role con­di­tions have not been re­leased, but are re­ported to al­low him to meet with Steenkamp’s par­ents June and Barry if they wish. The Depart­ment of Correctional Ser­vices has also said Pis­to­rius would un­dergo “con­tin­ued psy­chother­apy” and face re­stric­tions on own­ing firearms.

State ap­peal

Pis­to­rius was jailed af­ter a six-month trial that made head­lines around the world. Pros­e­cu­tors said he killed Steenkamp in a fit of rage, fir­ing four shots through the locked toi­let door. They de­scribed the dou­ble am­putee as an ego­tis­ti­cal liar ob­sessed with guns, fast cars and beau­ti­ful women, who was not pre­pared to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for his ac­tions. The case is cur­rently be­ing re­viewed by the Supreme Court of Ap­peal as state pros­e­cu­tors push to have the cul­pa­ble homi­cide ver­dict over­turned in fa­vor of a mur­der con­vic­tion.

The court heard ar­gu­ments from both sides last week, and is ex­pected to take some weeks be­fore an­nounc­ing its de­ci­sion. The five ap­peal judges could al­ter the orig­i­nal trial ver­dict and send the case back to the high court for a new sen­tence. If he was found guilty of mur­der, he would face a min­i­mum of 15 years in prison. Pis­to­rius’s fam­ily made no com­ment on his com­mu­nity ser­vice yes­ter­day. When he was re­leased, a fam­ily spokes­woman said he would serve the rest of his sen­tence “un­der the strict con­di­tions that gov­ern correctional su­per­vi­sion.” Pis­to­rius shot Steenkamp, a model and law graduate, at the peak of his fame, fol­low­ing his his­toric per­for­mance in 2012 when he be­came the first dou­ble-am­putee to race at Olympic level. Dur­ing the trial, Pis­to­rius of­ten broke down, weep­ing and at times vom­it­ing as he heard how Steenkamp was hit by hol­low-point bul­lets he fired from the 9mm pis­tol that he kept un­der his bed. In the shoot­ing’s af­ter­math, he lost his glit­ter­ing sports ca­reer, lu­cra­tive con­tracts and sta­tus as a global role model for the dis­abled. His release on house ar­rest was in line with nor­mal treat­ment of South African con­victs, but was crit­i­cized by women’s rights groups and many oth­ers in the coun­try.— AFP

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