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Oscar Pistorius seeks early release 10 years after killing girlfriend

2023-03-31T10:14:12Z

Oscar Pistorius, the former South Africa Paralympic champion jailed in 2016 for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will ask a parole board on Friday to release him early from prison, lawyers and prison officials said.

Once the darling of the Paralympic movement for pushing for greater recognition and acceptance of disabled athletes, Pistorius shot dead Steenkamp, a model and law student, in his bathroom on Valentine’s Day in 2013.

The athlete, known as “Blade Runner” for his carbon-fibre prosthetic legs, went from public hero to convicted murderer in a trial that drew worldwide interest.

Steenkamp’s family oppose his parole bid and will give verbal and written statements at the hearing on the impact the murder had on them, their lawyer Tania Koen told Reuters.

Arriving at Atteridgeville prison near the capital Pretoria on Friday morning, Reeva’s mother June Steenkamp said she was feeling nervous.

“It’s going to be very hard to be in the same room as him,” she told reporters from her car.

A prison spokesperson confirmed the closed-door parole board meeting was under way.

Gun enthusiast Pistorius told his trial he had believed Steenkamp was an intruder when he shot her several times through the bathroom door with ammunition designed to inflict maximum damage to the human body.

He was jailed in 2016, initially for a six-year term, but had this sentence increased to 13 years after an appeal by prosecutors who argued the initial sentence was too lenient.

Pistorius became eligible for parole after serving half of his sentence.

He met Steenkamp’s father Barry last year when participating in a process known as victim-offender dialogue – part of South Africa’s restorative justice programme that brings parties affected by a crime together in a bid to achieve closure.

The independent parole board must determine, among other issues, whether Pistorius is at risk of committing similar crimes in the future, prison spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said.

It will also consider his disciplinary record, training programmes in prison and his physical and mental state, prison officials said.

Pistorius’ lawyer, Julian Knight, told Reuters he was not in a “position to comment until such time as the Parole Board has made a decision”.

Related Galleries:

Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius leaves court after appearing for the 2013 killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, June 14, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/Files

June Steenkamp, mother of Reeva Steenkamp who was murdered by former athlete Oscar Pistorius in 2013, arrives at Atteridgeville Correctional Centre to attend his parole hearing in Pretoria, South Africa March 31, 2023. REUTERS/Alet Pretorius

View of the Atteridgeville Correctional Centre entrance where former athlete Oscar Pistorius, convicted for killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp in 2013 is applying for parole in Pretoria, South Africa March 31, 2023. REUTERS/Alet Pretorius

Barry Steenkamp, father of Reeva Steenkamp, is consoled by his wife June Steenkamp during the sentencing hearing of Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria October 15, 2014. REUTERS/Antoine de Ras/Pool

Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius reacts as Judge Thokozile Masipa (unseen) delivers her verdict at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria September 12, 2014. REUTERS/Alon Skuy/Pool

The door through which Reeva Steenkamp was shot is displayed during Oscar Pistorius’s murder trial in Pretoria April 14, 2014. REUTERS/Antoine de Ras/Pool
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