Saturday 24 September 2016

Prosecutors launch appeal bid days before Pistorius released

Gillian Parker in Johannesburg

Published 18/08/2015 | 02:30

Oscar Pistorius
Oscar Pistorius
Reeva Steenkamp
Oscar Pistorius and his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in Johannesburg in February 2013
Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock

Prosecutors pushing for a murder conviction against Oscar Pistorius launched an appeal yesterday, four days before the Olympic runner is expected to be released from prison and moved to house arrest.

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The South African Paralympian was last night counting down the hours until his release from prison, having served 10 months of a five-year sentence for the killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. He is expected to wear an electronic tag when he is released from prison on Friday. He will live in a leafy suburb outside South Africa's capital Pretoria in a three-storey mansion, boasting sweeping verandas, landscaped grounds and a swimming pool. It is the luxury home of his uncle, where the Paralympic gold medallist will return after serving just 10 months of the five-year prison sentence for killing his girlfriend Ms Steenkamp.

The double-amputee, known as the 'Blade Runner' because of the carbon-fibre prosthetics he used on the track, will be released from Pretoria's Kgosi Mampuru II Prison on Friday. On release, the 28-year-old will live at his uncle's house in Waterkloof. It is known as an "old money" neighbourhood, housing the city's elite as well as several diplomatic residences, where properties can fetch up to 20m Rand (€1.4m).

During the trial last year, the prosecution failed to convince the judge that Pistorius deliberately killed 29-year-old Steenkamp on Valentine's Day 2013, when he shot four rounds through a locked toilet door. The court accepted the athlete's justification that he mistook her for a burglar.

The disgraced former track star was instead convicted of culpable homicide, South Africa's equivalent of manslaughter, and sentenced to five years in prison. He is eligible for early release under a law that allows for an offender to be considered for house arrest after serving one sixth of their sentence. Under the terms of his release, he will be banned from alcohol or handling guns, and subject to blood tests.

His parole is also expected to include community service but he is unlikely to be allowed to leave South Africa.

Mike Steenkamp, Reeva's uncle, said the family were coping with the imminent release as best they could: "We will see how things are in a week, we just have to take it as it comes."

Irish Independent

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