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South African ‘Blade Runner’ Pistorius gets parole a decade after killing girlfriend

South African 'Blade Runner' Pistorius gets parole a decade after killing girlfriend © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius leaves court after appearing for the 2013 killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, June 14, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/Files

By Bhargav Acharya

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -Jailed South African Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius was granted parole on Friday more than 10 years after murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, and will be released on Jan. 5, authorities said.

Pistorius – known as the “Blade Runner” for his carbon-fibre prosthetic legs – shot the 29-year-old model and law graduate through a bathroom door on Valentine’s Day in 2013, and later repeatedly told courts he had mistaken her for an intruder.

The Steenkamps’ family lawyer said on Friday they were not surprised by the parole decision, issued after Pistorius had completed a set portion of his sentence.

But in the run-up to Friday’s hearing, Reeva Steenkamp’s mother June released a statement saying she was not convinced Pistorius had been rehabilitated.

“Rehabilitation requires someone to engage honestly with the full truth of his crime and the consequences thereof,” her statement read.

She said she had forgiven him “long ago as I knew most certainly that I would not be able to survive if I had to cling to my anger”.

Pistorius was initially jailed for five years in 2014 for culpable homicide by a high court and later released to serve out his sentence under house arrest.

But the Supreme Court of Appeal in late 2015 found him guilty of the more serious charge of murder after an appeal by prosecutors.

He was jailed for six years in 2016, less than half the 15-year minimum term sought by prosecutors.

In 2017, the Supreme Court more than doubled his sentence to 13 years and five months, saying the six-year jail term was “shockingly lenient”.

“Mr Pistorius will complete the remainder of the sentence in the system of community corrections and will be subjected to supervision in compliance with parole conditions until his sentence expires,” the Department of Correctional Services said on Friday.

Pistorius, who turned 37 this week, would have to continue with anger management therapy as a condition of his parole, the Steenkamp family’s lawyer Tania Koen said.

Pistorius’s lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for a comment.

Several factors are typically taken into account by a parole board, including the nature of the crime, the possibility of reoffending, conduct in prison, physical and mental wellbeing and potential threats a prisoner may face if released.

Pistorius was denied parole in March after it was ruled that he had not completed the minimum detention period required to be considered for parole.

However, the Constitutional Court said in October that Pistorius had served half of his sentence by March 21, which meant he was eligible, after his sentence was backdated to July 2016 instead of November 2017.

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