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Oscar Pistorius granted parole and will be released from Prison 10 years After Killing Girlfriend

Oscar Pistorius granted parole and will be released from Prison 10 years After Killing Girlfriend

BY Guardian

South Africa’s parole board has granted early release to Oscar Pistorius, the former athlete jailed for the 2013 murder of Reeva Steenkamp, who was his girlfriend.

Pistorius shot and killed Steenkamp, a law graduate and model, through a bathroom door in their shared home in Pretoria on Valentine’s Day 10 years ago. He claimed he thought there was an intruder in the bathroom when he opened the fire.

He will be released on 5th January 2024 after a parole board deemed him fit for social reintegration, South Africa’s correctional services department said on Friday.

Before Steenkamp’s murder, Pistorius was a national star feted for winning Paralympic medals and going on to become the first double amputee to race in the Olympics.

The killing made him infamous, and a long series of trials and appeals spurred international debate about gender-based violence and justice.

Steenkamp’s father, Barry, died in September. Her mother, June, did not attend Friday’s parole hearing, saying in a statement that after her husband’s death, “I simply cannot muster the energy to face [Pistorius] again.”

She urged the parole board to “treat the safety of women as the most important consideration” in its deliberations, underscoring that Pistorius has never accepted that he targeted Steenkamp.

“I do not believe Oscar’s version that he thought the person in the toilet was a burglar,” she wrote in a victim impact statement. “I do not know anybody who does. My dearest child screamed for her life, loud enough for the neighbours to hear her.

“I do not know what gave rise to his choice to shoot through a closed door four times with hollow-point ammunition when, I believe, he knew it was Reeva.”

She said she was not convinced Pistorius had been rehabilitated but that she would not oppose his release if officials decided otherwise.

The statement was read to reporters, outside the prison where the parole hearing was held by Rob Matthews, whose 21-year-old daughter was murdered in 2004 and who became a friend of the Steenkamp family.

In the initial 2014 trial, the judge found Pistorius guilty of the lesser crime of culpable homicide, comparable to manslaughter, ruling that there was no evidence he had wanted to kill Steenkamp.

That decision caused an outcry, with women’s rights groups warning it sent a dangerous message about the value of women’s lives.

After prosecutors appealed against the ruling, Pistorius was convicted of murder in the Supreme Court of Appeals on a legal principle known as dolus eventualis, which means he acted with extreme recklessness and should have known that whoever was behind the door would probably be killed.

He was initially sentenced to six years in prison, less than half the 15-year minimum term sought by prosecutors. In 2017, the Supreme Court more than doubled his sentence to 13 years and five months, saying the six-year term was “shockingly lenient.”

Pistorius, who turned 37 this week, was at the height of his fame when he killed Steenkamp. A double amputee below the knees from 11 months old, he was nicknamed the “blade runner” for the cutting-edge carbon-fibre prosthetics that he wore in races, and he converted his success into lucrative endorsement contracts and sponsorship deals.

At the trials, prosecutors argued there was another side to his life that involved guns, angry confrontations, and allegations of aggression towards women he had dated before Steenkamp. He was also found guilty of a charge of recklessly firing a gun in a restaurant.

Pistorius was denied parole in March of this year after it was ruled that he had not completed the minimum detention period required to be considered for parole.

However, the constitutional court said in October that Pistorius had served half of his sentence by 21st March this year, which meant he was eligible for parole, after his sentence was backdated to July 2016 instead of November 2017.

He is expected to live at his uncle’s home in a wealthy Pretoria suburb, where he stayed during his murder trial.

The parole will come with conditions over the next five years until his sentence expires on 5 December 2029. These will include attending programmes on anger issues and violence against women, and completing community service.

He will not be able to leave Pretoria and will have to inform authorities of any major events in his life, including if he wants to move home or get a job, a corrections department said.

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