Double-amputee ‘Blade Runner’ killer granted parole

Double-amputee ‘Blade Runner’ killer granted parole

Oscar Pistorius was denied early release from prison at a prior hearing in March

Double-amputee Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius will be released from a South African prison in January, it was decided on Friday at a Correctional Supervision and Parole Board (CSPB) hearing, nearly 11 years after he shot and killed his former girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Often referred to by his nickname “Blade Runner” due to his use of carbon-fiber prosthetic legs, Pistorius’ global fame disintegrated when he was convicted of culpability in the death of Steenkamp, 29, whom he fatally shot on Valentine’s Day in 2013. Pistorius had maintained that he believed Steenkamp to be a home intruder when he discharged a firearm through a bathroom door of his Pretoria home.

Following Friday’s ruling at the Atteridgeville prison outside Pretoria, Pistorius will be released on January 5. His parole will last until December 5, 2029 and he will be subject to various conditions until his sentence expires.

Pistorius, now 37, was initially sentenced to five years in jail for culpable homicide in 2014. However, a year later the charge was upgraded to murder following an appeal by prosecutors and he was issued a new term of six years in 2016 – less than half of the 15-year sentence sought by prosecutors. Then, in 2017, South Africa’s Supreme Court more than doubled his term to 13 years and five months, describing the initial sentencing as “shockingly lenient.” 

The Supreme Court said at the time that Pistorius had “fired without having a rational or genuine fear that his life was in danger,” and added that the case was a “human tragedy of Shakespearean proportions.”

“The CSPB shall … decide whether the inmate is suitable or not for social reintegration,” correctional services spokesman Singabakho Nxumalo said earlier this week. Among the factors typically considered in parole board hearings are the severity of the crime, the potential of reoffending and the inmate’s conduct while incarcerated.

Steenkamp’s mother, June, did not oppose Pistorius’ parole, the BBC reported on Friday, but did not attend the hearing. Nonetheless, in a letter to the parole board, June Steenkamp wrote that she would be “concerned for the safety of any woman” with whom Pistorius interacts.

A previous parole hearing in March was called off after authorities determined that Pistorius had not yet served the minimum required sentence to be eligible for parole. Last month, the Constitutional Court ruled that this was an error, establishing the parameters for a new hearing on Friday.

Pistorius, whose legs were amputated below the knee when he was a child, became one of the world’s most talked-about athletes when the multiple medal-winning Paralympian competed against able-bodied opposition at the London Olympics in 2012.

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