Former South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius was released from prison on Friday, a decade after he fatally shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in a crime spree that gripped the world, prison authorities said.
A parole board looking into whether Pistorius, 37, was suitable for social reintegration, decided to suspend him from January 5, the Department of Corrections said.
“Mr Pistorius will serve the remainder of his sentence in the community corrections system and will be subject to supervision in accordance with the terms of his release until the end of his sentence.”
Earlier, Steenkamp’s mother told the parole hearing that she did not believe the former athlete had been rehabilitated because he had shown no real remorse.
“Rehabilitation requires one to deal honestly with the full truth of their crime and its consequences. No one can claim remorse if they are unable to fully engage with the truth,” June Steenkamp said in a statement. to the board of directors.
But her spokesman told the board she was not opposed to Pistorius being released.
The hearing, held at a prison outside Pretoria where he is currently being held, was Pistorius’ second shot at parole in less than eight months.
He lost a first bid in March when the board found that Pistorius had not completed the minimum period of detention required to be released from prison.
The Constitutional Court last month ruled that was wrong, paving the way for a new hearing.
Pistorius killed Steenkamp, a model, in the early hours of Valentine’s Day 2013 by shooting four times through the bathroom door of his high-security Pretoria home.
Known worldwide as ‘Blade Runner’ for his carbon fiber prosthetics, he was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 13 years in prison in 2017 after a lengthy trial and numerous appeals.
He had pleaded not guilty and denied killing Steenkamp in a fit of rage, saying he mistook her for a burglar.
But June Steenkamp said she doesn’t believe him.
“I don’t believe Oscar’s version,” she said in her submission to the board that was read to the media outside the detention center by a family representative.
“My beloved child screamed for her life loud enough for the neighbors to hear. I don’t know what led him to choose to shoot through a closed door four times at someone with hollow point ammunition when I believe he knew it was Reeva .”
However, he said he forgave the former sprinter “a long time ago, as I knew for sure I couldn’t survive if I had to hold on to my anger”.
As part of his rehabilitation, Pistorius met Steenkamp’s parents last year, in a process authorities said was aimed at ensuring the prisoners “recognise the harm they have caused”.
June Steenkamp was not present at Friday’s parole hearing and was represented by a family representative and an attorney.
Steenkamp’s father, Barry, died in September aged 80.
“I have no doubt that he died of a broken heart,” the widow said in her statement.
Family spokesman Rob Matthews said it would be very difficult for June Steenkamp to attend the proceedings given what she had been through recently.
“It’s been a really tough road for June … there was a parole hearing in March and it took all her courage to attend,” he said.
Offenders in South Africa are automatically eligible for parole consideration after serving half of their sentence.
The board, usually made up of corrections officers and community members, assesses whether an inmate is still a danger to society.
This takes into account the seriousness of the offense as well as Pistorius’ behavior behind bars.
Release usually comes with certain conditions, such as monitoring by authorities and reporting to a community correctional facility.
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