Convicted South African ‘Blade Runner’ to be granted early release

Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius

(GIN)–Oscar Pistorius, an Olympic and Paralympic champion convicted of killing his girlfriend during a sleepover, is scheduled for release 10 months into his five=year prison sentence, local media is reporting.

News of the early release was first shared with the family of Reeva Steenkamp, Pistorius’ model girlfriend who he claimed to have mistaken for an intruder in his gated community apartment.

The trial of Pistorius, whose lower legs were amputated at an early age, was closely watched over the seven months in court as an indication of how post-apartheid South Africa would treat criminals that were white.

The track star has been held in South Africa’s capital at the Pretoria Central Prison, once the execution site for opponents of South Africa’s racist, white-minority government.

Under South African law, Pistorius is eligible for release under “correctional supervision” having served a sixth of his sentence.

South African Commissioner of Correctional Services Zach Modise told the BBC that the case management committee at the Kgosi Mampuru II prison in Pretoria, where Pistorius is being held, made the recommendation last week.

The decision is likely to mean a period of house arrest for Pistorius.

Steenkamp, a 29-year-old law graduate and model, died almost instantly on Valentine’s Day in 2013 when Pistorius shot her through a locked toilet door at his luxury Pretoria home.

Tania Koen, a lawyer for Ms Steenkamp’s parents Barry and June, said that while the two had forgiven Pistorius, “ten months is not enough.…

“It also doesn’t send out the proper message and serve as the proper deterrent as the way it should.”

Prosecutors had pushed for a murder conviction, but the athlete maintained he fired in the mistaken belief an intruder was hiding behind the door.

A bid to appeal the culpable homicide conviction was upheld and prosecutors will seek a murder conviction when their case is heard again in November.

The decision could leave Pistorius open to a prison sentence of at least 15 years if he is convicted of murder.

 

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Category: Africa Briefs

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