Disgraced Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius up for parole

Oscar Pistorius will live under strict conditions until his sentence expires in December 2029.

Oscar Pistorius will live under strict conditions until his sentence expires in December 2029. Photo: AP

Oscar Pistorius could be granted parole after spending nearly 10 years in prison for murder.

It is the latest turn in the story of the double-amputee Olympic runner who was one of the world’s most admired athletes before he killed his girlfriend by shooting her multiple times through a toilet door at his home.

Pistorius, who turned 37 this week, was sent to prison in 2014 and has been given a second chance at parole after he was wrongly ruled ineligible for early release at a first hearing in March. That was due to an error made by an appeals court over when his jail sentence officially started and if he has served the required time.

He was initially convicted of culpable homicide — a charge comparable to manslaughter — for killing Reeva Steenkamp in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine’s Day 2013. That conviction was overturned and he was convicted of murder after an appeal by prosecutors. They also appealed against an initial sentence of six years for murder and Pistorius was ultimately sentenced to 13 years and five months in prison.

Serious offenders in South Africa must serve at least half their sentence to be eligible for parole, which Pistorius has done.

Pistorius was eventually convicted of murder on a legal principle known as dolus eventualis, which means he acted with extreme recklessness and should have known that whoever was behind the door would likely be killed. It’s comparable to third-degree murder.

The killing happened when Pistorius was at the height of his fame and months after he had become the first double-amputee to compete at the Olympics. He was also a multiple Paralympic sprinting champion and one of sport’s most marketable figures having overcome the amputation of both his legs below the knee as a baby to run on specially designed carbon-fibre blades.

It is not guaranteed that Pistorius will be released when he appears before the parole board in Pretoria on Friday.

Parole boards take a wide range of factors into account, including the offender’s conduct in prison, their mental health, and any risk posed to the community by their release. They also have various versions of parole available to them. Pistorius could be released on full parole or day parole, where he can live and work in the community but must return to prison at night.

There have been only occasional glimpses of Pistorius’ life behind bars over the past decade. His father has said he has been holding Bible classes for fellow prisoners, although there have also been flashes of trouble, including an altercation Pistorius had with another inmate over a prison telephone that left him requiring medical treatment.


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