Ex-Olympic runner Pistorius up for parole decade after girlfriend’s murder

Johannesburg — Imprisoned former Paralympic gold medalist and Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius was up for parole on Friday. The South African parole board was to meet to decide if the Olympic runner would be released more than 10 years after he shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentines Day 2013.

The board would consider his conduct and disciplinary record in prison, his participation in educational or other training courses, his mental and physical state, whether they believe he is likely to relapse into crime and the risk he poses to the public. 

The televised 2014 trial had viewers around the world glued to the courtroom video feed as prosecutors argued that the athlete, known as the “Blade Runner” for his carbon-fiber prosthetic legs, had deliberately shot his girlfriend through a locked bathroom door. Pistorius maintained throughout that it was a terrible accident and that he had mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder.

He was ultimately convicted of murder after prosecutors successfully appealed an initial conviction for culpable homicide, a lesser charge comparable to manslaughter in the U.S. He was sentenced to 13 years and five months in prison in 2017, which took into account time he’d already served behind bars during the appeal process.  

The double amputee, who turned 37 on Wednesday, lost his first bid for parole in March when the Department of Correctional service said he had not completed the minimum detention period to be eligible for parole. Inmates in South Africa must serve half their sentence to be eligible. Authorities decided in March that half of Pistorius’ sentence would be measured from his last conviction, but the Constitutional Court overturned that ruling last month, saying the date must be determined from the first day an inmate begins serving time in prison.  

Several lawyers told CBS News that Pistorius was likely to be granted parole on Friday, but that his actual release could take anywhere from a few hours to several weeks after the parole board’s decision.

Reeva Steenkamp and Oscar Pistorius

Pistorius has been serving his sentence at Atteridgeville Prison, west of Pretoria. Social workers inspected his uncle Arno Pistorius’s property in Pretoria earlier this year, which is where he will serve out the remainder of his sentence if parole is granted. The terms of parole vary in South Africa but can include an electronic tag to monitor movements and a ban on making money from media interviews about the individual’s incarceration.   

Steenkamp’s mother June did not address the parole board directly Friday, but a representative read out a family impact statement in which June said: “Rehabilitation requires someone to engage honestly, with the full truth of his crime and the consequences thereof. Nobody can claim to have remorse if they’re not able to engage fully with the truth.”

The year before he killed his model girlfriend, Pistorius was a star of the London Olympics, achieving global recognition for being the first double amputee to run against able-bodied sprinters.

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