Oscar Pistorius’ prison release date announced

Oscar Pistorius
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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee Olympic runner who shot his girlfriend to death on Valentine’s Day 2013, can leave prison and move to house arrest next week, South Africa’s Department of Corrections said Thursday.

A parole board at the prison where Pistorius has served nearly a year of his five-year sentence for manslaughter made the decision. It came after an initial ruling to release the athlete in August was canceled at the last minute after intervention by the justice minister.

This time, the board “approved the placement of offender Oscar Pistorius under correctional supervision as from 20 October 2015,” the corrections department said in a statement following the meeting of the parole board earlier Thursday.

Pistorius was acquitted of murder last year for the shooting death of Reeva Steenkamp, but prosecutors have appealed that trial verdict and will seek a murder conviction again at South Africa’s Supreme Court on Nov. 3.

The appeal will come just two weeks after Pistorius is freed next Tuesday. If Pistorius is convicted of murder by a panel of five judges at the appeal, he faces going back to prison for 15 years, the minimum sentence for murder in South Africa, which no longer has the death penalty.

The Steenkamp family lawyer didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Steenkamp’s father, Barry Steenkamp, told The Associated Press last week that he wanted the delays and uncertainty around Pistorius’ release to end.

“I’m sure a lot of people have had enough of the whole scenario. That’s all I can say. Let justice take its course,” he said.

MORE: Oscar Pistorius trial timeline

The spokeswoman for Pistorius’ family, Anneliese Burgess, said in a text message to the AP that they had been informed of the decision to release Pistorius but would not be commenting further.

Pistorius was sentenced to five years after being convicted of culpable homicide, a charge comparable to manslaughter, for shooting Steenkamp, a model and reality TV star. Under South African law, an offender sentenced to five years or less in jail can be released after serving one-sixth — in Pistorius’ case 10 months.

He has maintained he thought Steenkamp was an intruder in his Pretoria home and killed her by mistake. Prosecutors said he shot her intentionally during an argument after she had fled to a bathroom stall.

Pistorius will now be moved to correctional supervision, a form of house arrest, where he will have to live under certain conditions for the next four years. His sentence ends on Oct. 20, 2019.

Pistorius has been informed of those conditions, the corrections department said, although it did not detail them all. It did say that Pistorius would have to continue receiving psychotherapy while under house arrest and would not be allowed to handle any firearms.

Correctional services department spokesman Manelisi Wolela did not rule out ultimately allowing Pistorius to return to training. He also said Pistorius would not be required to wear an electronic tagging device.

Pistorius, known as “Blade Runner” for his carbon-fiber 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.

In June, the same parole board cleared Pistorius to be released from Kgosi Mampuru II Prison in Pretoria on Aug. 21 only for that decision to be suspended by the minister of justice, who ordered a review.

The 28-year-old Pistorius is expected to serve his house arrest at his uncle’s mansion in an upmarket suburb of Pretoria.

 

MORE PISTORIUS: Top rival wants him to race again

Saudi Arabia to host 2029 Asian Winter Games

Olympic Council of Asia
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Saudi Arabia will host the Asian Winter Games in 2029 in mountains near the $500 billion futuristic city project Neom.

The Olympic Council of Asia on Tuesday picked the Saudi candidacy that centers on Trojena that is planned to be a year-round ski resort by 2026.

“The deserts & mountains of Saudi Arabia will soon be a playground for Winter sports!” the OCA said in a statement announcing its decision.

Saudi sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal said the kingdom’s winter sports project “challenges perception” in a presentation of the plan to OCA members.

“Trojena is the future of mountain living,” the minister said of a region described as an area of about 60 square kilometers at altitude ranging from 1,500 to 2,600 meters.

The Neom megaproject is being fund by the Saudi sovereign wealth vehicle, the Public Investment Fund.

Saudi Arabia also will host the Asian Games in 2034 in Riyadh as part of aggressive moves to build a sports hosting portfolio and help diversify the economy from reliance on oil.

A campaign to host soccer’s 2030 World Cup is expected with an unprecedented three-continent bid including Egypt and Greece.

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Jim Redmond, who helped son Derek finish 1992 Olympic race, dies

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Jim Redmond, who helped his injured son, Derek, finish his 1992 Olympic 400m semifinal, died at age 81 on Sunday, according to the British Olympic Association, citing family members.

At the 1992 Barcelona Games, Derek pulled his right hamstring 15 seconds into his 400m semifinal, falling to the track in anguish.

He brushed off help from officials, got up and began limping around the track. About 120 meters from the finish line, he felt the presence of an uncredentialed man who rushed down the stadium stairs, dodged officials and said, “We started this together, and we’re going to finish this together,” according to Olympedia.org.

“As I turned into the home straight, I could sense this person was about to try and stop me,” Derek said in an NBC Olympics profile interview before the 2012 London Games. “I was just about to get ready to sort of fend them off, and then I heard a familiar voice of my dad. He said, ‘Derek, it’s me. You don’t need to do this.'”

Derek said he shouted to his dad that he wanted to finish the race.

“He was sort of saying things like, ‘You’ve got nothing to prove. You’re a champion. You’ll come back. You’re one of the best guys in the world. You’re a true champion. You’ve got heart. You’re going to get over this. We’ll conquer the world together,'” Derek remembered. “I’m just sort of saying, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.'”

At one point, Derek noticed stadium security, not knowing who Jim was, having removed guns from their holsters.

“It’s the only time I’ve ever heard my dad use bad language,” Derek said. “He just goes, ‘Leave him alone, I’m his father.'”

Derek told himself in that moment, “I’m going to finish this race if it’s the last race I ever run.” It turned out to be the last 400m race of his career, after surgery and 18 months of rehab were not enough to yield a competitive comeback, according to Sports Illustrated.

Derek had missed the 1988 Seoul Games after tearing an Achilles, reportedly while warming up for his opening race. He looked strong in Barcelona, winning his first-round heat and quarterfinal.

“I’d rather be seen to be coming last in the semifinal than not finish in the semifinal,” he said, “because at least I can say I gave it my best.”