Oscar Pistorius is free to race for his country again despite being a convicted killer, the South African Olympic committee has said.
The double amputee sprinter, due to be sentenced next month after being found guilty of the culpable homicide of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, could compete at any time because the committee has no regulations barring someone with a criminal record.
Tubby Reddy, chief executive of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic committee, told the Associated Press: a�?As he stands right now, hea��s free [to compete].a�?
Pistorius potentially faces up to 15 years in prison after being convicted of the South African equivalent of manslaughter, but could receive a suspended sentence and avoid jail altogether when he returns to court on 13 October.
Reddy said that, as long as judge Thokozile Masipa does not make any ruling that prevents it, Pistorius is at liberty to run for South Africa again. The International Paralympic Committee has already said he could resume his career once he has served any sentence, describing him as a�?a fundamental ambassador of the Paralympic movementa�?.
Pistorius, 27, is known to be working out regularly at a gym to maintain his fitness. Last year the athlete, known as the a�?blade runnera�? because of his prosthetic limbs, was cleared to run overseas after appealing his bail terms, but chose not to while he focused on his murder trial.
His agent, Peet van Zyl, said competing now was not an option but he and Pistorius would a�?sit down and take stocka�? after his sentencing hearing. a�?Ita��s all up to Oscar,a�? he told Associated Press. a�?He must decide what he wants to do. I dona��t know what his mindset is now. I will sit down with him. Is he keen or is he not keen?a�?
Meanwhile, it has emerged that security for Masipa has been stepped up in the wake of her controversial decision to acquit Pistorius of murder. South Africaa��s City Press newspaper said the policea��s tactical response team is stationed outside her home and a�?escorts her wherever she goes, and checks on her every houra�?. It quoted a source saying the officers had been a�?extra cautiousa�? since the judgment.
Masipaa��s verdict was questioned by legal experts and triggered a critical a�� and at times menacing a�� storm on social media. According to City Press, a photo of a group of children armed with long knives went viral with a caption saying they would wait for the judge at her house to discuss the case. Even American tycoon Donald Trump has weighed in, tweeting that she was a a�?total morona�?.
But some commentators have defended Masipa. Pierre de Vos, an expert in constitutional law at the University of Cape Town, tweeted:a�?Dear tweeps. By all means critique the #OscarTrial judgment and application of the law. Not cool to launch ad hominem attacks on the judge.a�?
Lawyer Willem de Klerk told City Press: a�?Robust criticism of a judgment and court processes, even the conduct of a judge, is perfectly acceptable. But there is a line that one cannot cross. You cannot insult the judge in her personal capacity. Such caricatures of her border on hate speech.a�?
The National Prosecuting Authority could apply for leave to appeal against the ruling, once sentencing has taken place. Steenkampa��s parents, Barry and June, have said Pistorius should have been found guilty of murder because his version of events did not add up. The family are expected to continue a civil claim, which has been on hold for the duration of the trial. – The Guardian