The Galleon - Portsmouth's Student Newspaper


Oscar Pistorius

Are we all equal in the eyes of the law?

Oscar Pistorius running during the London 2012 Olympics

Chris Eason Oscar Pistorius running during the London 2012 Olympics

Regardless of whether or not Oscar Pistorius decides to attend qualifiers for the upcoming world championships, the fact of the matter is that the choice was there in the first place.

This, amongst several other defining features of this high profile case, has made quite apparent the difference in treatment that those in the limelight would appear to receive within the legal system in comparison to the layperson.

Although Oscar himself is yet to comment on any intentions he may have to compete in the championships, his agent has claimed that it may well be necessary in order for the athlete to earn money to cover the substantial legal fees he has accrued over the course of the case.

Yet if an everyday person found themselves in the same situation it is unlikely they would be allowed to work to earn money to cover their expenses, but would instead be more than likely to find themselves forced to go without further representation within court, which would have a detrimental effect on their case.

In the middle of February, Oscar Pistorius was arrested for reportedly shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in their shared home in Pretoria, South Africa, which he claims was as a result of mistaking her for a burglar.

It will not be decided until June whether or not Pistorius faces a charge for murder or for manslaughter but the notable feature of this case is the lenience that the accused appears to be being treated with given what he is accused of. It is debatable whether an ‘ordinary’ person would have been granted the same bail conditions for the same crime, and now to see authorities giving the ‘blade runner’ permission to leave the country to compete, should he decide to, makes you question whose intentions the legal system is prioritising.

Although we are all apparently seen as equals in the eye of the law, it would seem that those with a ‘celebrity’ status are allowed more freedom than the likes of the layperson; if an ‘ordinary’ person was on trial for murder they would more than likely be spending their bail in a prison cell (regardless of their potential innocence) rather than in the comfort of their Uncle’s house as Pistorius has been since he was released on bail on 22nd February.

If the verdict of the trial should turn out to be guilty then these will be months when the law has allowed a murderer to walk free. Had the accused not been a famous athlete can we honestly say that his treatment would have been the same?

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