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Monday 22 January 2018

Oscar Pistorius to be released from jail and moved to house arrest

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)

A parole board has decided that Oscar Pistorius can be released from prison and moved to house arrest next Tuesday, according to South Africa's Department of Corrections.

The parole board made the decision today after an initial decision to release the double-amputee runner in August was cancelled.

Pistorius has served nearly a year of his five-year sentence for manslaughter for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

He will be moved to correctional supervision, a form of house arrest, where he will have to live under certain conditions.

Under South African law, an offender jailed for five years or less can be released after serving one-sixth of a sentence - in Pistorius' case 10 months.

The board "approved the placement of offender Oscar Pistorius under correctional supervision as from 20 October 2015," the corrections department said in a statement.

Pistorius was acquitted of murder last year for the shooting death of Ms Steenkamp, but prosecutors have appealed against that decision and will seek a murder conviction again at South Africa's Supreme Court on November 3.

If Pistorius is convicted of murder by a panel of judges at that appeal, he faces a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison.

The corrections department said the parole board made the decision after receiving a submission from Ms Steenkamp's family.

Pistorius was sentenced to five years after being convicted of culpable homicide, a charge comparable to manslaughter, for shooting Ms Steenkamp, a model and reality TV star.

He has maintained he thought she was an intruder in his home. Prosecutors said he shot her as she was in a bathroom stall in his Pretoria house during an argument.

Full details of the house arrest conditions were not detailed by the corrections department, although it did say that Pistorius would have to continue receiving psychotherapy and would not be allowed to possess a firearm.

In June, the parole board cleared Pistorius to be released from Kgosi Mampuru II Prison in Pretoria on August 21 only for that decision to be suspended by the minister of justice, who ordered a review.

A parole review board then sent Pistorius' case back to the same prison officials to consider again.

The 28-year-old will now be able to leave prison on Tuesday. He is expected to serve his house arrest at his uncle's home in an upmarket suburb of Pretoria.

Correctional services department spokesman Manelisi Wolela did not rule out ultimately allowing Pistorius to return to training. He also said Pistorius would not be required to wear an electronic tagging device.

Pistorius, known as the Blade Runner for his carbon-fibre running blades, gained worldwide fame when he ran against able-bodied athletes at the 2012 London Olympics, the first amputee runner to compete at the games.

Ms Steenkamp's parents are trying to "move on with their lives", their lawyer said.

"Whether Oscar Pistorius remains incarcerated or is released, it's not going to change anything in their lives," lawyer Tania Koen said. "It makes no difference to them."

But "they still believe that 10 months or 12 months (in jail) is not enough for taking a life", Ms Koen said.

Press Association

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