Former Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius on Tuesday will walk out of the South African prison hospital ward where he served a year for the negligent killing of his girlfriend and begin house arrest at his uncle’s Pretoria mansion.
But early next month, the athlete, who last year was convicted of culpable homicide in the death of Reeva Steenkamp, faces a prosecution appeal of his acquittal on a murder charge.
South Africa’s parole board decided Thursday to release the double-amputee athlete under correctional supervision, or house arrest, until October 2019. Steenkamp’s parents, Barrie and June, did not make a new submission to the board protesting his release, relying on an earlier submission that he hadn’t served enough time for taking a human life.
“The Parole Board considered all submissions including the offender’s profile report, the directives of the Parole Review Board and the submission of the victim’s family,” according to a brief statement by the Department of Correctional Services.
“Upon careful consideration of the facts placed before the Parole Board as contained in the ... profile report submitted by the case management committee ... the Parole Board decided to place Mr. Oscar Pistorius under correctional supervision as from 2015/10/20 until 2019/10/20,” the parole board said in a statement.
Pistorius faces certain conditions, including that he is not allowed to handle a firearm and must undergo psychotherapy, the department’s statement said.
The Steenkamps’ lawyer, Tania Koen, told local media that the family continues to oppose Pistorius’ release, believing he had not served enough time in prison.
“They say nothing has changed in their lives,” Coen said of the family. “Reeva is still not coming back. Whether Mr. Pistorius remains incarcerated or whether he is released, Reeva isn’t coming back, so it doesn’t make a difference to them.”
The Supreme Court of Appeal next month will hear the prosecution’s challenge to Pistorius’ murder acquittal, raising the possibility that the athlete may go back to prison.
The prosecution argues that the court misapplied the law and that Pistorius must have known that he would kill the person inside the toilet cubicle in his bathroom when he fired four high-powered bullets through the door -- even if he believed it was an intruder and not Steenkamp.
The court found he was grossly negligent but formed no intent to kill Steenkamp.
The appeals court could reject or uphold the prosecution’s argument or order Pistorius’ retrial. Attorney Barrie Roux says his client, who sold his Pretoria house to cover his legal fees, has no money to pay for a second trial. He argues that Judge Thokozile Masipa applied the law correctly when she acquitted Pistorius of murder.
The parole board had ordered Pistorius’ release in August, but the decision was overturned by Corrections Minister Michael Masutha and was later set aside by the Parole Review Board.
Pistorius’ family have complained that the athlete was not being treated fairly because of media attention surrounding his release date.
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