Pistorius up for parole, but must meet victim’s parents

Eight years after he shot dead his girlfriend, Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius is up for parole, but first he must meet with her parents.

Pistorius, a double-amputee athlete who competed at the 2012 Olympics, has been eligible for parole since July after he was convicted of murder for shooting model Reeva Steenkamp multiple times through a toilet door in his home on Valentine’s Day 2013.

Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to 13 years and five months in prison after being convicted of Reeva Steenkamp’s murder in 2015.Credit:AP

Pistorius was convicted of murder in 2015 and sentenced to 13 years and five months in prison. He became eligible for parole under South African law after serving half his sentence.

A parole hearing was scheduled for last month but was cancelled, partly because a meeting between Pistorius and Steenkamp’s parents, Barry and June, had not been arranged, lawyers for both parties told the Associated Press on Monday.

Corrections department officials scheduled the parole hearing for October but it was called off because a full report on Pistorius’ time in prison wasn’t available, said Julian Knight, a lawyer for Pistorius. The date for a new hearing has not yet been set, he said.

Barry and June Steenkamp want a face-to-face meeting with Pistorius before he is considered for early release from prison, as is their right under South Africa’s victim-offender dialogue policy. The Steenkamps previously said they wanted to challenge Pistorius on why he shot their daughter. Victim-offender meetings were created with the aim of offering closure for the families of victims of crimes.

June and Barry Steenkamp at the high court in Pretoria in October, 2014. Credit:AP

“They [Barry and June] feel that Reeva has got a voice. They are Reeva’s voice, and they owe it to their beloved daughter,” Tania Koen, the Steenkamps’ lawyer, said.

The Steenkamps will also be allowed to make recommendations to the parole board. The opinion of victims’ families is considered by a parole board when deciding whether to release an offender, but it is not the only criteria.

The multiple Paralympic champion was initially found guilty of culpable homicide — an offence comparable to manslaughter — for shooting Steenkamp with a licensed pistol. He claimed at his trial it was a tragic accident and he mistook her for an intruder. Prosecutors appealed the finding and secured a murder conviction.

Reeva Steenkamp and Oscar Pistorius in Johannesburg in 2012.Credit:AP

Knight said he believed Pistorius had met the requirements to be released early.

“From what I have observed of him, he has been a model prisoner,” he said. “My view is that he does meet the requirements to be placed on parole but the procedures must be followed.”

AP

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