Parole denied for South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius in killing of girlfriend

If granted, he would have been released from prison in the coming weeks.

March 31, 2023, 11:25 AM

LONDON AND PRETORIA, South Africa -- Former South African Olympic and Paralympic runner Oscar Pistorius had his parole denied following a board hearing Friday.

The hearing took place in Atteridgeville Correctional Centre on the outskirts of Pretoria, South Africa, where Pistorius has been incarcerated since 2016. Pistorius was convicted of murder in the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013.

If granted by the parole board, Pistorius could have been freed from prison in a matter of weeks. He will now have to wait to apply again in August 2024.

"While we welcome today’s decision, today is not a cause for celebration," the Steenkamp family said in a statement. "We miss Reeva terribly and will do so for the rest of our lives. We believe in justice and hope that it continues to prevail."

The parole board, composed of correctional service officers and community members, considered whether Pistorius, 36, should be released and allowed to serve the remainder of his sentence on license in Pretoria after serving half of his 13-year sentence.

In this Feb 20, 2013 file photo Oscar Pistorius stands in the dock during a break in court proceedings at the Pretoria Magistrates court.
Siphiwe Sibeko1/Reuters, FILE

The closed-door parole board considered his offense, his conduct and disciplinary record while in prison, his mental and physical state, and other criteria, such as his participation in educational courses and whether he will pose a threat to public safety.

Reeva Steenkamp's mother, June Steenkamp, told the media assembled outside the hearing that said it would be "very hard" to be in the same room as Pistorius.

The Steenkamp family's lawyer, Tina Koen, told reporters prior to the hearing that being at the parole board decision was "very unpleasant" for June Steenkamp, "but she knows that she had to do it for Reeva and she did it and I am very proud of her and she is very relieved that it's over."

Koen added, "As I've said before, she doesn't feel that he's rehabilitated and hasn't told the truth, and for that, both her and Barry [Steenkamp, Reeva's father] submit that he must not be released on parole."

In a globally televised trial, Pistorius was convicted in 2015 and eventually sentenced to 13 years and five months in prison for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day 2013 at their Pretoria East home. He claimed he shot Steenkamp through the bathroom door believing her to be an intruder.

June Steenkamp, mother of Reeva Steenkamp who was murdered by former athlete Oscar Pistorius in 2013, arrives at Atteridgeville Correctional Centre to attend his parole hearing in Pretoria, South Africa, March 31, 2023.
Alet Pretorius/Reuters

Pistorius, who was born with a congenital defect that led to the amputation of both legs below the knee, ran with prosthetics in the 2012 Summer Olympics. He finished second in his heat of the 400 meters, but did not advance out of the semifinal. He also ran in the 4-by-400 meter relay, where the South African team finished eighth.

He is a six-time Paralympic gold medalist.

ABC News' Joe Simonetti and Liezl Thom contributed to this report.

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