Thursday 14 November 2019

Pistorius gets parole less than a year into sentence

Oscar Pistorius will be released from prison and moved to house arrest next week (AP)
Oscar Pistorius will be released from prison and moved to house arrest next week (AP)
Reeva Steenkamp

Aislinn Laing in Pretoria

Oscar Pistorius, South Africa's "Blade Runner", has been released on parole, just short of a year into his five-year sentence for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

The disgraced Paralympic gold medallist must serve the rest of his sentence under house arrest after his release late on Monday night.

He still has to face a November 3 appeal by prosecutors who argue that he should have been convicted of murder rather than culpable homicide, the equivalent of manslaughter.

A spokeswoman for the Pistorius family confirmed that "Oscar is here and home with his family".

"The family is happy that Oscar is home, but want to emphasise the fact that Oscar continues to serve his sentence," said Anneliese Burgess.

A statement from the family said: "Oscar was released into correctional supervision last night. Like you, we had expected him to be released today, but we were informed that the details of any release are decided upon by the facility concerned and that is why Oscar was released a couple of hours earlier.

"It is very important for the family to emphasise that Oscar's sentence has not been shortened or reduced. He is simply entering the next phase of his sentence now. He will serve this under the strict conditions that govern correctional supervision.

"The family will support Oscar as he serves out the remainder of the five-year sentence handed down by the trial judge.

"And he will strictly adhere to the conditions set by the parole board and community corrections."

Pistorius (28) will be confined to his uncle Arnold's home in a wealthy suburb of the capital Pretoria.

He had been expected to leave prison yesterday.

The athlete, whose lower legs were amputated when he was a baby, was freed in line with South African sentencing guidelines that say non-dangerous prisoners should spend only one-sixth of a custodial sentence behind bars.

The department of correctional services said Pistorius's parole conditions included that the gun enthusiast must undergo psychotherapy and was not allowed to possess a gun.

Steenkamp's family have said they are unhappy with Pistorius's sentence and questioned the verdict in public in August.

"To them it doesn't matter whether he was released yesterday a few hours earlier or a few hours later," Tania Koen, a lawyer for slain model Ms Steenkamp's family said yesterday.

"Whether he remains incarcerated or not, it makes no difference to them now because Reeva is still not coming back."

Last night, as Pistorius was bedding down at his uncle's home, his brother Carl tweeted: "'The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night's sleep.' - E Joseph Cossman."

Llewelyn Curlewis, a criminal barrister and former president of South Africa's law society, said under the terms of his release on correctional supervision, Pistorius would be expected to undertake as much as 300 hours of community service over four years and most likely be confined to the jurisdiction of Pretoria.

If he wished to leave the area, for an exceptional reason such as a family funeral, he would have to apply for special dispensation from the Correctional Services commissioner or his parole officer, he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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