Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius indicted on murder charge, trial set to start March 3

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Oscar Pistorius reportedly wept and prayed before being handed a copy of his indictment on a charge of murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at a Pretoria court Monday morning.

Pistorius’ trial will run from March 3-20, the court announced.

Pistorius shot and killed Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day morning in his Pretoria home. If convicted of premeditated murder, he faces a life sentence with at least 25 years in prison.

The defense said Pistorius thought Steenkamp was an intruder locked behind a bathroom door. The state will argue Steenkamp was hiding behind the bathroom door, fearing for her life, during the trial, City Press in South Africa reported Sunday.

The indictment (linked here) included 107 witnesses that the state could call on, including at least one of Pistorius’ ex-girlfriends, according to reports from the Pretoria courtroom. Some of the witnesses heard a woman scream, then gunshots, then more screaming, the indictment read, according to reports.

Steenkamp would have turned 30 years old Monday.

South African outlet News24 compiled a photo gallery of Pistorius’ appearance. He did not say much during the 12-minute proceedings after nearly an hour delay.

A report out of South Africa last week said Pistorius would face additional charges of recklessly discharging a gun in public in separate incidents, but those charges were not included in the indictment. The second charge in the indictment was the possession of illegal ammunition.

It was reported over the weekend that Pistorius told detectives how to access his iPhone but can’t remember a password to access his WhatsApp messages, according to the Star in South Africa.

“After months of SDHp pressing him he ­remembered the password to his iPhone 5 but we haven’t been in a position to open all his messages from the night of the shooting and the days before that,” a senior source at South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority said, according to the Star.

The media attention on Pistorius has remained high in South Africa. He was recently spotted on a kayak, and that photo made the front page of the country’s leading Afrikaans-language newspaper.

In 2012, Pistorius became the first double leg amputee to compete in the Olympics when he ran the 400 meters and the 4×400-meter relay.

The World Track and Field Championships went on without Pistorius in Moscow last week. Olympic champion Kirani James, who exchanged nametags with Pistorius at the London Games, told The Associated Press he plans to frame the nametag.

“For him not to be here, it’s something the sport is missing,” James said, according to the AP.

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Chinese figure skating judges banned for biased Olympic scoring

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Two Chinese figure skating judges were suspended by the International Skating Union for biased judging at the PyeongChang Olympics.

Chen Weiguang and Huang Feng had “preferential marking” for top Chinese skaters Jin Boyang (fourth place in PyeongChang) and the silver medalist pairs’ team of Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, respectively, according to the ISU.

Chen was banned two years and excluded from the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Huang got a one-year ban.

Chen awarded her highest grades of execution scores of the men’s competition to Jin, as well as her second-highest program components scores, trailing only gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu. Both sets of scores, in both the short and long programs, were out of line with the other eight judges.

“There is evidence of preference for the Chinese skater and prejudice against his strongest competitors,” an ISU report read. “Her marks were completely unrealistic.”

The pairs’ judge Huang “obviously favored his pair also vis-à-vis the other top candidates for the Olympic gold medal,” the ISU said in a report, referencing inflated scores for Sui and Han and lower scores for gold and bronze medalists Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada.

Huang was warned one month before the Olympics by the ISU for biased judging at the December 2017 Grand Prix Final pairs’ event.

Both suspensions are subject to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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Javier Fernandez to skip Grand Prix, still compete next season

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Javier Fernandez, who in PyeongChang became the first Spanish Olympic figure skating medalist, will skip the fall Grand Prix series but return for January’s European Championships, which could be his final competition.

Europeans will be Fernandez’s focus for the season, his agent said Tuesday.

Fernandez, 26, added an Olympic bronze medal to his 2015 and 2016 World titles. He has said that his third Olympics in PyeongChang would be his last. But Fernandez did not say he would retire after the Winter Games, though he did skip the world championships in March.

Fernandez now plans to compete in his 13th straight European Championships in Minsk in January. He won the last six titles. It’s unknown if he will continue on to the world championships in Saitama, Japan, in March.

In Fernandez’s absence, the top male singles skaters in the fall Grand Prix season should be double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, PyeongChang silver medalist Shoma Uno and American Nathan Chen, who was fifth at the Olympics after a disastrous short program but ran away with March’s world title by the largest margin in history.

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