Friday 22 September 2017

Pistorius free to compete as travel ban lifted

Aislinn Laing Pretoria

OSCAR Pistorius, the Paralympic runner accused of murdering his girlfriend, has been handed back his passport and cleared to compete in international races after a South African judge ruled that strict bail conditions imposed on him were "unfair".

Mr Pistorius's lawyers said the athlete had no immediate plans to start running again but since the sport was his sole form of income, he wanted the option of doing so in the future.

The decision could result in Mr Pistorius, who did not attend yesterday's hearing, taking part in London's Anniversary Games in July, at which the accomplishments of paralympic champions from last year's games will be celebrated. Mr Pistorius cemented his reputation as the world's most famous amputee at London 2012, winning two golds and a silver.

He was arrested on February 14, just hours after shooting Reeva Steenkamp (29) through a locked lavatory door at his home outside Pretoria. He claimed he had thought the model was a burglar, but prosecutors say he killed her deliberately after an argument.

Last month, after Mr Pistorius had spent eight nights in a cell, a magistrate ruled that he be released to live at his uncle's home. He was told to surrender his passport and report twice weekly to a police station. He was banned from drinking alcohol or returning to the house where Ms Steenkamp died.

Yesterday, Bert Bam, a Pretoria High Court judge, upheld an appeal by Mr Pistorius, saying the strict conditions – which the athlete's lawyers likened to "house arrest" – were "unfair".

Distinctive

"I find no reason why the applicant should be forbidden from leaving the Republic of South Africa if he is invited to compete in athletic events in other countries," he said. He added that the magistrate had agreed that a world-famous athlete who was distinctive because of his prosthetic legs was not a flight risk, yet had imposed conditions that suggested he was.

Ms Steenkamp's family said they were bemused by the news. (© Daily Telegraph, London).

Irish Independent

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