Oscar Pistorius, the Olympian known as the “Blade Runner,” moved from prison to house arrest by night Monday to avoid a ruckus with the press.
The athlete will finish the remaining four years of his five-year sentence for manslaughter under correctional supervision. He will live at the stately home of his uncle, Arnold Pistorius, which has lush gardens, a swimming pool, and large metal gates.
Prison officials decided Mr. Pistorius should leave under cover of darkness almost a day earlier than expected to avoid the logistical difficulties of TV cameras. The move had been planned for Tuesday, but doing it a few hours early was the prerogative of the prison officials, and the decision avoided a media circus, the Department of Correctional Services told Reuters.
Pistorius has attracted a great deal of international media attention – initially as the first runner to compete at the Olympics using two cutting-edge prosthetic limbs, then as the defendant in a murder case.
Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in 2013. He maintains that he mistakenly thought she was an intruder, but the prosecution claims he shot her through a bathroom door during an argument. He was acquitted of murder last year, but prosecutors are appealing the verdict to the Supreme Court of South Africa, and a panel of five judges will hear the case Nov. 3. A murder verdict from the appeal would send Pistorious back to prison for at least 15 years.
While on house arrest, Pistorius can leave his uncle's home in a suburb of the capitol, Pretoria, for a few specified reasons.
“The conditions are strict and he will be able to leave the house to go to work, go to church or to buy groceries," Karen van Eck, a lawyer with Clarke and Van Eck Attorneys, told Reuters.
Anneliese Burgess, speaking on behalf of the Pistorius family outside the house Tuesday morning, refused to discuss the terms of house arrest, except to say that Pistorius must continue psychotherapy and may not use guns, reported the Associated Press.
The correctional services department said Pistorius might be able to train again, if he chooses. For now, the athlete’s family and friends were glad to have him home.
“I'm glad he was released quietly last night,” Dewald Reynders, a former athlete who had trained with Pistorius, told Reuters. “He shouldn't have to go through all of it over and over again.”
This report contains material from the Associated Press and Reuters.