South African judge rules Oscar Pistorius can travel abroad to compete, but with conditions

  • Article by: GERALD IMRAY , Associated Press
  • Updated: March 28, 2013 - 1:46 PM
hide

Olympic athlete, Oscar Pistorius , in court Friday Feb. 22, 2013 in Pretoria, South Africa, for his bail hearing charged with the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

Photo: , Associated Press - Ap

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

PRETORIA, South Africa - Oscar Pistorius could compete at this year's world championships after a South African judge eased his bail restrictions and ruled Thursday that the athlete, who faces a murder trial for the shooting death of his girlfriend, can travel overseas to run.

The international athletics body said that if Pistorius qualifies, it had no objections to him running — an event that could eclipse the stir last year when he became the first double amputee to compete at the Olympics. Pistorius' agent told The Associated Press soon after the ruling that the world championships in Moscow in August could be a possibility if the runner wanted to return to the track on his carbon fiber blades.

Judge Bert Bam upheld the Olympic athlete's appeal against some of his bail restrictions, but said the 26-year-old Pistorius must travel under certain conditions. The athlete could face a life sentence if found guilty of murder for the Valentine's Day shooting death of Reeva Steenkamp.

His passport will be held by a court while he is in South Africa, and he can only leave the country if he provides an itinerary of his travel plans at least a week before he is due to leave. Pistorius must also hand his travel documents back to the court within 24 hours of returning home, Bam ruled.

"Based on this (the judge's decision), and if he is up for it and qualifies, the world championships will definitely be on the radar," Pistorius' agent, Peet van Zyl, told the AP by telephone.

The judge's decision was "fair," Van Zyl said, but any return to track would be up to Pistorius, who hasn't run competitively since September and hasn't trained for two months. The worlds are in August, while Pistorius' next court appearance is June 4.

"It's his call. He's the one under all the pressure for the court case and grieving for Reeva," the agent said.

Although Pistorius' lawyers said in the appeal hearing that he had no immediate plans to compete, he would likely need to return to track in the future to earn money, they said. Pistorius, widely known as the Blade Runner for his prosthetic legs, did not attend the court session.

"He has no desire to compete now but it might change and it will change," defense lawyer Barry Roux told the judge in arguing for Pistorius' travel restrictions to be eased. Roux said Pistorius would not try and evade trial if he is allowed to travel internationally, and would eventually need to run again "to earn an income."

"He is not going to run away and hide. He is going nowhere," Roux told the judge in the brown-walled courtroom in the high court, where television cameras and photographers were allowed in to record the proceedings. "Why stop him from traveling under controlled circumstances?" Roux added.

Pistorius says he killed Steenkamp accidentally when he fired shots through a door in his bathroom in the pre-dawn hours of Feb. 14, fearing there was an intruder in his house. Prosecutors say he shot the model and reality TV star intentionally after they argued, and they have charged him with premeditated murder.

The IAAF, athletics' ruling body, reiterated that it wouldn't comment on the case involving Pistorius, but he would be allowed to run at the world championships if he met the sporting criteria.

"If he qualifies for (the) Moscow World Championships next August, then on the basis of (the) `innocent unless proved guilty' principle he would be free to run," IAAF spokesman Yannis Nikolaou said in a statement emailed to the AP.

The decision on whether Pistorius could run at other events would be at the "discretion of meeting organizers" and not the IAAF, Nikolaou said.

British Athletics chairman Ed Warner said it was too early to say if Pistorius would be invited to the London Anniversary Games in July at Olympic Stadium, a meet to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Olympics. Any decision would be taken "with great care," Warner said.

Pistorius' last competitive race was his victory in the 400 meters final at the London Paralympics in September last year. He hasn't trained or "seen a track" for around nine weeks, agent Van Zyl said, but when he was ready they would consider both able-bodied and Paralympic events.

Van Zyl saw no reason why Pistorius shouldn't be allowed to run again by athletics authorities while accused of murder and said that he had been contacted by race promoters who wanted to see Pistorius return to competition.

"If they (track bodies) don't allow him to run and he walks out (of court) a free man, there might be a problem," Van Zyl said.

The judge also ruled in favor of Pistorius on three other bail restrictions.

He no longer has to be regularly supervised by a probation official and a ruling that he wasn't allowed to consume alcohol and could be tested at any time for alcohol and "prohibited substances" was lifted. Bam also slammed one of the bail conditions imposed by another court, saying a condition that Pistorius would be in breach of his bail if he was merely accused of another crime against women was "fraud." It went against Pistorius' constitutional right to be innocent until proven guilty, Bam said.

The high court judge's rapid ruling came three hours after the hearing began.

Two other restrictions — that Pistorius was not allowed to return to his house, where he shot Steenkamp dead on Feb. 14, and had to report regularly to a police station — should be "disregarded," the judge said.

It meant Pistorius' legal team succeeded in all its appeals. Pistorius' lawyers smiled after the judge ruled in their favor.

The prosecution wouldn't comment on how the ruling affected its case.

"Our focus is on the upcoming trial and we need to focus on that with all our minds," National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Medupe Simasiku said. "The investigation is going well and we believe that soon it will be completed."

The athlete's lawyers had earlier argued that he was being treated as a flight risk by his bail restrictions even though a magistrate ruled last month that he was not when he released Pistorius on 1 million rand ($108,000) bail.

Defense lawyer Roux also argued against a ruling that prevented him from speaking to residents near his home, saying he should be allowed to consult with them to prepare his defense.

Prosecutors had opposed the relaxing of Pistorius' bail restrictions and also said the appeal should have gone to the original magistrate's court that set bail for Pistorius, and not Pretoria's high court. Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair imposed the bail conditions on Feb. 22. Pistorius had been held in a police station until then. He hasn't been seen in public since and is believed to have been staying at an uncle's house.

Pistorius was not required to attend his appeal hearing and none of his family members were present at the court in the heart of South Africa's capital city.

At Pistorius' next court appearance in early June, the prosecution would aim to serve indictments, chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the court. Nel said there is a possibility that Pistorius' trial will begin by the end of the year.

___

AP Sports Writers Stephen Wilson and Rob Harris in London, and Jerome Pugmire in Paris contributed to this report.

___

Follow Gerald Imray at www.twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Utah 101 FINAL
Orlando 94
Charlotte 109 FINAL
Philadelphia 91
Brooklyn 91 FINAL
Cleveland 95
Washington 105 FINAL
Miami 103
Minnesota 98 FINAL
Boston 114
Toronto 110 FINAL
Detroit 100
Chicago 103 FINAL
Memphis 97
Portland 129 FINAL
San Antonio 119
LA Clippers 106 FINAL
Denver 109
Oklahoma City 100 4th Qtr 1:05
LA Lakers 101
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 3
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Ottawa 6
NY Islanders 2 FINAL
Detroit 1
Boston 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Dallas 2 FINAL
Calgary 1
Wilberforce 71 FINAL
Youngstown St 92
Jackson State 49 FINAL
Tulane 56
Siena 66 FINAL
Radford 76
Stillman 49 FINAL
Alabama 69
Case Western Reserve 65 FINAL
Bucknell 88
Niagara 62 FINAL
Buffalo 88
SD Christian 46 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 69
Concordia (MI) 60 FINAL
Central Mich 97
Northern Ill 55 FINAL
Dartmouth 58
North Florida 83 FINAL
Florida A&M 65
Hiwassee 71 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 91
Tennessee St 54 FINAL
Hampton 66
NC A&T 57 FINAL
Kent State 71
Central Penn College 65 FINAL
Liberty 94
Eastern Ky 72 FINAL
Miami-Florida 44
Northern Ky 83 FINAL
Morehead State 60
Northern Ariz 62 FINAL
Norfolk State 81
MD-Eastern Shore 43 FINAL
Old Dominion 60
St Marys-CA 47 FINAL
St Johns 53
Clemson 45 FINAL
South Carolina 68
Tenn Tech 58 FINAL
Tennessee 61
Washington-MD 46 FINAL
William & Mary 86
Bethune-Cookman 46 FINAL
Mercer 67
Furman 78 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 83
South Dakota St 53 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 49
Milligan 53 FINAL
Lamar 80
LSU-Alexandria 71 FINAL
ULM 76
Southern Utah 57 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 73
Chattanooga 58 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 68
Seattle 57 FINAL
Minnesota 92
Lipscomb 55 FINAL
Princeton 77
Winthrop 71 FINAL
SE Louisiana 81
Dickinson State 48 FINAL
North Dakota 78
New Orleans 56 FINAL
Southern Ill 52
TX-Pan American 60 FINAL
Creighton 75
Colorado State 85 FINAL
Denver 84
Alabama A&M 49 FINAL
Marquette 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 51 FINAL
Texas Tech 72
Eastern Wash 67 FINAL
California 78
Idaho State 56 FINAL
Utah State 69
Arizona 46 2nd Half 7:23
Texas-El Paso 41
Hawaii 55 2nd Half
Chaminade 32
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Ohio Valley 33 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
East Tenn St 48 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 61
Cal-Irvine 44 FINAL
Purdue 69
Campbell 63 FINAL
Stetson 76
Jacksonville St 70 FINAL
Charleston Southern 43
Louisiana 64 FINAL
Alcorn State 57
Denver 63 FINAL
Wright State 72
Blue Mountain 30 FINAL
Central Arkansas 71
Texas State 51 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 40
Albany 62 FINAL
Pepperdine 36
TX-San Antonio 53 FINAL
Houston 56
Yale 66 FINAL
Bucknell 73
Northern Colorado 56 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 69
Belmont 86 FINAL
Mercer 83
Massachusetts 66 FINAL
Georgia State 71
George Mason 69 FINAL
Winthrop 57
Portland State 33 FINAL
Princeton 104
UCLA 71 FINAL
Samford 52
Mobile 30 FINAL
Alabama State 66
Nicholls 49 FINAL
Texas Tech 76
Toledo 65 FINAL
Nevada 56
UMass Lowell 48 FINAL
(13) Duke 95
St Marys-CA 49 FINAL
Virginia 62
McNeese State 55 FINAL
Rice 57
McMurry 49 FINAL
Houston Baptist 69
NJIT 62 FINAL
Seton Hall 74
(6) North Carolina 65 FINAL
Maine 36
Lafayette 58 FINAL
Stony Brook 60
Siena 62 FINAL
Binghamton 53
Longwood 56 FINAL
Clemson 72
Savannah State 51 FINAL
Florida State 97
(19) Syracuse 72 FINAL
(9) Baylor 74
Buffalo 68 FINAL
Manhattan 58
Canisius 43 FINAL
Michigan 79
Davidson 66 FINAL
NC State 82
Northern Ky 63 FINAL
Delaware 58
Saint Louis 81 FINAL
Austin Peay 86
(25) DePaul 64 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 98
Ohio U 74 FINAL
La Salle 63
Florida Atlantic 60 FINAL
Long Beach St 85
Miami-Florida 65 FINAL
Tulane 70
Miss Valley St 39 FINAL
Memphis 62
Ark-Pine Bluff 56 FINAL
UAB 65
Bowling Green 58 FINAL
Illinois State 54
Arkansas State 78 FINAL
Missouri State 62
ULM 42 FINAL
Wichita State 57
(16) Oregon State 71 FINAL
Southern Ill 55
Pacific 67 FINAL
New Mexico St 62
No Dakota State 79 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 86
Utah State 92 FINAL
Sacramento St 102
Bethesda (CA) 61 FINAL
Fresno State 83
Utah Valley U 44 FINAL
Montana 68
LSU 78 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 45

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Will Christian Ponder ever be a full-time starter in the NFL?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close