Thursday 22 February 2018

Pistorius's wrist wounds 'not a suicide attempt'

Oscar Pistorius: got six years in jail for murdering girlfriend. Photo by Charlie Shoemaker/Getty Images
Oscar Pistorius: got six years in jail for murdering girlfriend. Photo by Charlie Shoemaker/Getty Images

Christopher Torchia

Jailed South African track star Oscar Pistorius has denied trying to kill himself after being treated in hospital for wrist injuries on Saturday, according to a prison service spokesman.

The multiple gold medal-winning paralympian, who is serving six years for murdering his girlfriend on Valentine's Day 2013, was returned to his Pretoria cell after the incident, which coincided with the first day of competition in the Rio Olympic Games.

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, then transferred to Kalafong hospital, said the department.

Pistorius was returned to his cell on Saturday and an investigation is now under way.

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

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

Pistorius's family declined to comment, referring inquiries to the department.

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

During his 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 hospitalised, not jailed.

Prosecutors disputed this, saying Pistorius has an aggressive streak and may have played up vulnerabilities in an attempt to win leniency from the judge.

Commenting on the decision to send Pistorius to a hospital, Mr Nxumalo, the Correctional Services official, 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's defence team suggested that those reports were exaggerated.

Last month, South African prosecutors said they would appeal Pistorius's jail sentence, arguing that 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, although 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 had killed Steenkamp by mistake, thinking there was an intruder hiding in the bathroom. Prosecutors said that he shot her intentionally after an argument.

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

He was born without fibulas, the slender bones that run from below the knee to the ankle.

His lower legs were amputated when he was just 11 months old.

Irish Independent

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