South Africa’s parole board is hearing early release submissions Friday for disgraced Paralympian Oscar Pistorius, who was jailed for shooting dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Pistorius was approved for parole consideration after serving more than half of his 13-year sentence. But Steenkamp’s parents are opposed to an early release, their lawyer Tania Koen told CNN ahead of the parole hearing taking place in the Pretoria prison where he is serving his sentence.
“I can confirm that June [Steenkamp] will be representing herself and Barry [Steenkamp] … at the parole hearing to consider the placement of Oscar Pistorius on parole. June will be making representations opposing parole,” Koen said, adding that the family would also be making statements at the hearing on the impact that Steenkamp’s murder has had on the family.
The former Olympic sprinter shot his partner four times through the bathroom door of his house in 2013, denying that he killed her in a fit of anger and saying instead he had mistaken her for an intruder.
Koen said Pistorius has told “various versions” of what happened and has “never clarified” why he shot the “final shot” which killed Steenkamp.
A decision by the parole board is not expected on Friday, Koen stated.
According to South African law, inmates can be considered for parole after serving half of their sentence if they meet conditions, like good behavior in prison.
In 2018, the athlete’s father Henke Pistorius told the UK’s Times newspaper that he ran bible classes and prayer groups for prisoners, including the jail’s most feared gang leader.
To be eligible for parole, Pistorius had to participate in South Africa’s “Restorative Justice” process, which gives offenders the opportunity to “acknowledge and take responsibility for their actions.”
The athlete – once feted as an inspirational figure after competing in the 2012 Olympics – became the center of a trial that was followed around the world.
During the trial, Pistorius pleaded not guilty to one charge of murder and a firearms charge associated with Steenkamp’s killing.
Prosecutors argued her killing was deliberate and that the shooting happened after the couple had an argument.
He frequently broke down in court and his past behavior was closely scrutinized.
Pistorius was convicted of manslaughter in 2014 and sentenced to five years. But a higher court overturned the conviction and changed it to murder a year later, increasing his sentence to six years in prison.
The ruling was appealed by prosecutors who claimed the sentence was too lenient. Pistorius’ sentence was increased to 13 years and five months by South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal in 2017.