Monday 26 September 2016

Pistorius denies suicide bid after suffering wrist injuries in prison

Published 07/08/2016 | 09:56

Oscar Pistorius is serving a six-year jail sentence for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
Oscar Pistorius is serving a six-year jail sentence for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

Oscar Pistorius has denied attempting to kill himself after being treated for minor wrist injuries at a hospital in South Africa - claiming he fell out of bed in his prison cell.

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The Olympian, who is serving a six-year sentence for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, denied he had attempted suicide, prison officials said.

Pistorius told officials that he suffered the injuries after falling out of bed, said Singabakho Nxumalo, a spokesman for the South Africa's correctional services department.

The former track star was initially treated by medical staff at the Kgosi Mampuru II prison in Pretoria, and then transferred to Kalafong hospital, said Manelisi Wolela, another official at the department.

He was returned to his cell on Saturday, and an investigation is under way.

"Oscar Pistorius denied speculations of a suicide attempt," Mr Wolela said in a text message to media.

"As a policy principle, we cannot further discuss a particular offender's personal condition in the public domain," he said.

Pistorius' family declined to comment.

Last month, South African prosecutors said they would appeal Pistorius' six-year jail sentence, saying it was too lenient. The double-amputee athlete, who was sentenced on July 6, could be released on parole after three years.

The prescribed minimum sentence for murder in South Africa is 15 years, though a judge can reduce that penalty in some circumstances.

Pistorius also previously served one year in prison for manslaughter for shooting 29-year-old Steenkamp, a model and reality TV star. That manslaughter conviction was upgraded to the more serious offence of murder after an earlier prosecution appeal, leading to a new sentencing.

Pistorius shot Steenkamp multiple times through a toilet cubicle door in his home in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day, 2013.

He testified that he killed Steenkamp by mistake, thinking there was an intruder hiding in the bathroom. Prosecutors said he shot her intentionally after an argument.

The report of injuries to Pistorius came as athletes compete at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Pistorius, known as "Blade Runner" for his carbon-fibre running blades, gained worldwide fame when he ran against able-bodied athletes at the 2012 London Olympics, the first amputee runner to compete at the Games.

During Pistorius' sentencing hearing in June, a psychologist testified for the defence that the athlete was a "broken" man whose mental state had deteriorated over the last two years, and that he should be detained in hospital and not jailed.

Prosecutors have challenged such assessments, saying Pistorius has an aggressive streak and may have played up vulnerabilities in an attempt to win leniency from the judge presiding over his case.

Commenting on the decision to send Pistorius to a hospital, Mr Nxumalo referred to past reports of tension between the convicted murderer and a prison nurse who testified about alleged confrontations over medication and other issues while the runner was serving an earlier manslaughter sentence.

Pistorius' defence team suggested those reports were exaggerated.

Pistorius has been held in a single cell in the hospital wing of the prison, reducing his interaction with other inmates.

AP

Press Association

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