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Oscar Pistorius appeal dismissed, closing 5-year legal saga

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Legal experts say Olympian Oscar Pistorius has finally run out of options to appeal his 13-year prison sentence for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp.

South Africa’s highest court dismissed Pistorius’ request to review the sentence on Monday, bringing a close to a five-year legal saga surrounding the man who was once one of the world’s most celebrated athletes.

“There is nothing they can do,” said Pierre de Vos, a constitutional law expert at the University of Cape Town.

Last year, the Supreme Court of Appeal more than doubled Pistorius’ six-year sentence for the murder of Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model, who he shot four times through a locked bathroom door in his home on Valentine’s Day in 2013.

The minimum sentence for murder in South Africa is 15 years, and the court called the initial six-year sentence “shockingly lenient.”

The double-amputee runner, who is 31, claims he mistook his girlfriend for an intruder.

Pistorius was originally convicted of manslaughter, but that was overturned and replaced with a murder conviction by the Supreme Court. He has also tried and failed to appeal his murder conviction in the Constitutional Court.

“Oscar Pistorius has exhausted his legal avenues in terms of the criminal process,” said Luvuyo Mfaku, a spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority.

Pistorius must serve at least half of his 13-year sentence before he can be considered for parole.

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South African triathlete severely injured in saw attack

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Assailants in South Africa attacked a top national triathlete who was cycling to a training session and cut into his legs with a blunt saw, causing severe injuries, an athletic director said Wednesday.

Mhlengi Gwala, 27, was undergoing surgery after the attack which occurred before dawn on Tuesday in the coastal city of Durban, said Dennis Jackson, director of the elite athlete program for KwaZulu-Natal province.

Several attackers pulled Gwala off his bicycle as he cycled up a steep hill and sawed into his right calf, damaging muscle, nerves and bone, according to Jackson, who spoke by phone to the triathlete about the ordeal. They missed a main artery and surgeons are confident they can save the leg, Jackson said.

The attackers also started sawing into Gwala’s left leg before fleeing, enabling the athlete to crawl to a road and flag down a passing car to take him to a hospital.

The grisly attack has alarmed athletes in Durban who routinely get up in the early morning darkness to train when few people are on the roads, and there was no immediate explanation for why Gwala was targeted. The athlete had offered his cell phone, wallet and bicycle to the assailants, who still went for his legs and were speaking in a language that Gwala could not understand, Jackson said.

“I have never heard of any enemies that he may have,” he said. “He is a wonderful ambassador for the sport.”

Gwala became an excellent athlete after overcoming drug and alcohol addictions, representing South Africa at international competitions in Chicago in 2015 and in the Netherlands last year, Jackson said. The athlete’s long term goals were to compete in half and whole ironman triathlons, which include swimming, cycling and running.

South Africa’s deputy sports minister, Gert Oosthuizen, described the attack on the “star athlete” as “totally unacceptable” and said police are investigating.

Countryman Henri Schoeman, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, said he wished Gwala the best on his path to recovery.

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Oscar Pistorius bruised in prison fight

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Olympian Oscar Pistorius, in jail for murdering his girlfriend, was bruised in an altercation with another inmate over telephone use, a South African prison spokesman confirmed Tuesday.

Pistorius sustained a minor injury in an alleged assault at the Attridgevill Correctional Centre last week, Singabakho Nxumalo of the Department of Correctional Services told The Associated Press.

Pistorius had a medical checkup and was found to have a bruise, said Nxumalo, who added that the incident is being investigated.

“The injury is minor, but we at the department take incidents like this seriously and want to prevent any altercations,” said Nxumalo.

The disagreement broke out between Pistorius and another inmate over use of a public telephone, he said.

Pistorius, a double amputee runner who won worldwide acclaim winning in the Paralympics and competing in the Olympics, is serving a 13-year sentence for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius shot her dead in his home on Valentine’s Day 2013 and claimed he thought she was an intruder.

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