Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius trial delayed by judge’s aide’s illness

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The anticipation of Oscar Pistorius potentially taking the stand at his murder trial Friday was quickly erased.

The judge announced a postponement until April 7 shortly after the day’s session was to start, citing an illness afflicting one of her assistants.

“One of my assessors is not well, so this court is not properly constituted,” Thokozile Masipa said, according to The Associated Press. “I suggest that we postpone this matter until the seventh of April.”

Masipa has two court assessors who assist her at the trial. The judge will render a verdict at the conclusion of the trial with their help, as South Africa does not have a jury system.

Pistorius is expected to testify shortly after the trial resumes, but he won’t be the first witness for the defense, according to Sky News. The prosecution wrapped its case Tuesday.

Pistorius, the first double amputee to run in the Olympics in 2012, is on trial for charges including the premeditated murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on the early morning of Valentine’s Day 2013.

He could face at least 25 years in prison if convicted of premeditated murder. He said he shot four times through a door, hitting and killing Steenkamp, thinking there was an intruder locked in his bathroom on Valentine’s Day 2013.

Here’s NBC News’ coverage of the Pistorius trial.

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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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MORE: Adam Rippon opines on figure skating future

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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