Parole board refuses early release for convicted killer Oscar Pistorius

FILE - Oscar Pistorius leaves the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, Tuesday June 14, 2016 during his trail for the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
FILE - Oscar Pistorius leaves the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, Tuesday June 14, 2016 during his trail for the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Copyright Themba Hadebe/AP
Copyright Themba Hadebe/AP
By Euronews with AP
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The former Paralympic athlete was convicted of killing his girlfriend Reena Steenkamp and sentenced to more than 13 years in prison in 2017.


Disgraced South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius has been denied early release from prison, ten years after he was convicted of killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. 

Pistorius, who is serving more than 13 years for her murder, applied for a parole hearing last year, arguing that he had served more than half his sentence. 

But on Friday the board, which includes representatives from the prison service, police and civilians, ruled that he will have to stay in prison for at least another year and four months after it was decided that he had not served the “minimum detention period” required to be released. 

The parole board hearing Pistorius' application ruled he would be able to apply again in August 2024, South Africa's Department of Corrections said in a statement. The board cited a new clarification on Pistorius' sentence that was issued by South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal three days ago, according to the statement.

The result was a surprise but there has been legal wrangling over when Pistorius should be eligible for parole because of the series of appeals in his case. He was initially convicted of culpable homicide, a charge comparable to manslaughter, in 2014 but the case went through a number of appeals before Pistorius was finally sentenced to 13 years and five months in prison for murder in 2017.

Serious offenders must serve at least half their sentence to be eligible for parole in South Africa and Pistorius' lawyers had gone to court to argue that he was now eligible because he had served the required portion of time in jail from late 2014 following his culpable homicide conviction.

Known worldwide as the "Blade Runner" because of his carbon-fibre prosthetics, Pistorius has always claimed he shot his girlfriend in error after mistaking her for a dangerous intruder.

Steenkamp's parents opposed parole

Steenkamp's parents still believe he is lying about their daughter's killing and opposed the former Olympic runner's application for parole, their lawyer said Friday.

"Unless he comes clean, they don't feel that he is rehabilitated,” lawyer Tania Koen told reporters outside the Atteridgeville Correctional Centre prison in Pretoria, where Pistorius has been incarcerated since 2016 and where his parole hearing took place Friday.

“He’s the killer of their daughter. For them, it’s a life sentence,” Koen said before the hearing.

Pistorius, a double-amputee runner and multiple Paralympic champion who made history by competing against able-bodied athletes at the 2012 Olympics, was convicted for the Valentine's Day 2013 shooting of Steenkamp at his home.

He said he didn't realise that she got out of bed and went to the bathroom. But her parents, Barry and June Steenkamp, have said they still believe he killed her intentionally in anger in a late-night argument.

AP Photo
June Steenkamp, the mother of Reeva Steenkamp arrives at the Atteridgeville Prison for the parole hearing of Oscar Pistorius, in Pretoria, South Africa, March 31, 2023.AP Photo

Pistorius fired four shots through a toilet cubicle door in his upscale Pretoria villa at his 29-year-old partner, a model and reality TV star, in the pre-dawn hours of February 14, 2013.

Pistorius, who is now 36, made a series of appeals in his case. 

The paralympic star has served more than seven years taking into account time served from late 2014 when his initial manslaughter conviction was overturned after an appeal by the prosecution resulted in a murder conviction. Pistorius is now eligible for parole.

Steenkamp's mother, June Steenkamp, submitted written and oral statements at Friday's hearing opposing Pistorius' application to be released from prison, the parents' lawyer said. Koen said June Steenkamp addressed the parole board in a separate room from Pistorius.

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