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Anger as Pistorius to be freed on parole after 10 months behind bars

Reeva Steenkamp’s parents say “incarceration of 10 months for taking a life is simply not enough”.
Jun 8th 2015, 5:17 PM 13,723 26

South Africa Pistorius Trial Oscar Pistroius arrives at court in Pretoria in June last year. Source: STR/AP/Press Association Images

OSCAR PISTORIUS, THE South African amputee sprinter who shot dead his girlfriend, is set to be freed on parole in August after serving just 10 months in jail, sparking anger from her family.

Pistorius, who became a global hero after competing in both the Paralympics and Olympics, claimed he mistook Reeva Steenkamp for an intruder when he fired four shots through a locked bathroom door on Valentine’s Day in 2013.

The 28-year-old athlete was found guilty last year of culpable homicide — a charge equivalent to manslaughter — and sentenced to five years in prison.

“The Correctional Supervision and Parole Board… approved the placement of Oscar Pistorius under correctional supervision with effect from 21 August,” a government statement said.

But Steenkamp’s family voiced dismay at the announcement.

“Incarceration of 10 months for taking a life is simply not enough,” Reeva’s parents June and Barry Steenkamp said in a statement released online.

We fear that this will not send out the proper message and serve as the deterrent it should.

The statement added that the family had “forgiven” Pistorius and did “not seek to avenge” the death of their daughter (29), a successful model and television presenter.

Zach Modise, commissioner of the correctional services, told AFP that Pistorius would likely be kept under house arrest with one hour of free time each day before the restrictions were gradually eased.

On Monday, the appeal hearing was set for November — three months after Pistorius is due to be freed on parole.

“A specific date has not been set yet, but we can confirm that the appeal will happen in November this year,” a Supreme Court official, who declined to be named, told AFP.

State prosecutors were granted permission to appeal against the verdict, arguing that Judge Thokozile Masipa misinterpreted the law when she ruled Pistorius did not intentionally kill Steenkamp.

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South Africa Pistorius Trial Source: Associated Press

The state argued he deliberately killed the 29-year-old law graduate and reality television star after an argument.

Pistorius’s legal team unsuccessfully tried to halt the appeal, saying the conviction was based on facts presented during the trial and therefore could not be challenged.

If an appeals court finds him guilty of murder, the athlete — known as the “Blade Runner” for his prosthetic legs he wears on the track — could face at least 15 years in jail.

Due to his physical disability, Pistorius has been held in the hospital ward of a Pretoria prison, shielding him from the often brutal overcrowded cells that are known for gang violence.

- © AFP, 2015

Read: Green-lighted appeal could mean more jail time for Pistorius >

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