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Oscar Pistorius denied parole over killing of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

Former Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius, jailed in 2016 for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, has been denied parole, South African prison authorities and a lawyer for the victim’s family said on Friday.

Pistorius became eligible for parole after serving half of his 13-year sentence. Steenkamp’s family opposed his bid, their lawyer Tania Koen told Reuters.

He will be reconsidered for release in August 2024, South Africa’s Department of Corrections said. The parole board cited a new clarification on Pistorius’ sentence that was issued by South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal three days ago.

The result was a surprise but there has been legal wrangling over when Pistorius should be eligible for parole because of the series of appeals in his case.

He was initially convicted of culpable homicide, a charge comparable to manslaughter, in 2014 but the case went through a number of appeals before Pistorius was finally sentenced to 13 years and five months in prison for murder in 2017.

“I can confirm that parole has been denied, they will reconvene in a year to reconsider him again and we don’t know the reasons yet [for the denial]. I’ve just received a call from the parole board … It is a huge sense of relief for June,” Ms Koen said.

The Department of Correctional Services said the “reason provided is that the inmate did not complete the minimum Detention Period”.

On Valentine’s Day 2013, Pistorius killed Steenkamp, a law graduate and model, when he fired four shots through a locked bathroom door at his Pretoria home.

Pistorius has always claimed he killed Steenkamp after mistaking her for a dangerous intruder in his home. The Steenkamps said they think he killed her intentionally after a late-night argument and want him to stay in prison.

June Steenkamp, Reeva’s mother, appeared at the Atteridgevile Prison on Friday to oppose his parole. Her father Barry was too unwell to attend the hearing.

Pistorius was heard separately by the court from Steenkamp’s family.

“While we welcome today’s decision, today is not a cause for celebration. 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,” Steenkamp’s parents said in a statement via Ms Koen.

Pistorius met Steenkamp’s parents last year, part of a process that authorities say aims to ensure inmates “acknowledge the harm they have caused to their victims and the society at large”.

Koen described the meeting as “very emotional” and “traumatic”.

A year before killing Steenkamp, Pistorius became the first double amputee to race in the Olympics, competing at the 2012 London Games.

He became a household name worldwide and was courted by sponsors, but it all came crashing down after the killing.

Inmates have the right to approach the courts for review when parole is denied.

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