Oscar Pistorius, Olympian Convicted of Murder, Is Denied Parole

A South African parole board on Friday denied an early release for Oscar Pistorius, the South African double-amputee whose historic run at the 2012 Summer Olympics was quickly overshadowed by a conviction for murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

Mr. Pistorius has served almost half of his 15-year sentence and was seeking parole, arguing that he had been rehabilitated. But the board denied his petition essentially on a technicality — because it was determined that he had not completed the minimum required detention period, according to the Department of Correctional Services.

On Valentine’s Day a decade ago, Mr. Pistorius shot through a bathroom door in his luxury home in Pretoria, killing Ms. Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model and law school graduate, whom he had been dating for several months. Mr. Pistorius argued that he thought an intruder had broken into his home and was hiding in the bathroom, and he only realized that it was his girlfriend after he opened the door.

Ms. Steenkamp’s family has rejected Mr. Pistorius’s version of events and opposed his release on parole. “Unless he comes clean, they don’t feel that he is rehabilitated,” said Tania Koen, a lawyer for Ms. Steenkamp’s family. “He hasn’t told the truth.”

Ms. Koen said that Ms. Steenkamp’s mother, June — who had addressed the parole board on Friday and asked them not to grant parole — was elated by the board’s decision.

Just months before the killing, Mr. Pistorius had been heralded as an inspiration across the world when he ran the 400 meters at the 2012 Olympics in London, becoming the first double-amputee to compete in the Olympic Games. He became known as the Blade Runner for the carbon fiber prosthetics that he ran on.

Mr. Pistorius’s five-month trial captivated the globe, and in South Africa surfaced painful conversations about violence against women and racial fears.

The parole board’s denial was on technical grounds, based on the length of time that Mr. Pistorius has served in prison. He went to prison in July 2016, and would be eligible for parole halfway through his sentence.

Singabakho Nxumalo, a spokesman for the corrections department, struggled to explain to reporters on Friday why the parole hearing was allowed to proceed even though Mr. Pistorius had not served enough time to be eligible.

His parole will be reconsidered in August 2024, Mr. Nxumalo said.

Mr. Pistorius has maintained that he was remorseful for the killing. He met with Ms. Steenkamp’s father, Barry, last year, but the father maintained that Mr. Pistorius was not being truthful about the murder.

Prosecutors argued that Mr. Pistorius killed Ms. Steenkamp in a jealous rage after an argument. Text messages revealed during the trial showed that the two had a volatile relationship, with Ms. Steenkamp accusing Mr. Pistorius of fits of jealousy. In one message she sent just weeks before her killing, Ms. Steenkamp said she was scared of Mr. Pistorius sometimes and of how he snapped at her.

Mr. Pistorius was initially convicted of manslaughter — not murder — but prosecutors appealed and his conviction was upgraded to murder. The judge presiding over the case, Thokozile Matilda Masipa, sentenced him to six years in prison, but an appeals court later increased the sentence to 15 years, the recommended minimum for non-premeditated murder.

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