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Oscar Pistorius released from South Africa prison after serving 9 years for murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee Paralympic and Olympic sprinter, was released from prison on parole on Friday, more than a decade after shooting his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in a killing that shocked the world.

A parole board granted Pistorius’ petition in November on the grounds that he had served half of his 13-year sentence for murdering Steenkamp, making him eligible according to South African law.

In a statement Friday, Steenkamp’s mother said her only desire following Pistorius’ release is that she would be allowed to live her remaining years “in peace”.

“There can never be justice if your loved one is never coming back, and no amount of time served will bring Reeva back,” June Steenkamp said. “We, who remain behind, are the ones serving a life sentence.”

Pistorius shot Steenkamp four times through a locked bathroom door in his home in Pretoria on February 14, 2013. He has maintained that he did not kill her in a fit of anger during a Valentine’s Day argument, as prosecutors argued, and said instead he had mistaken her for an intruder.

During the trial, which garnered global attention, Pistorius pleaded not guilty to one charge of murder and a firearms charge associated with Steenkamp’s killing.

He was initially convicted of manslaughter in 2014 and sentenced to five years. But a higher court overturned the conviction and upgraded 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.

Pistorius became eligible for parole in March 2023, due to a law for inmates who have served half of their sentence and met conditions such as good behavior. The legislation is part of the country’s “Restorative Justice” process, which gives offenders the opportunity to “acknowledge and take responsibility for their actions.”

According to the DCS, Pistorius will complete the remainder of his sentence in the country’s community corrections system.

He will have to attend programs on gender-based violence and continue therapy sessions on anger management, Reuters reported, citing a lawyer for the Steenkamp family.

The DCS said in a statement Wednesday that “general parole conditions” will apply, including Pistorius being required to be home at particular hours of the day. He will not be allowed to consume alcohol or prohibited substances and will be required to participate in programs identified by the Correctional Supervision and Parole Board.

“Just like other parolees, Pistorius is restricted from conducting media interviews,” the statement added.

‘Pain is still raw and real’

Steenkamp’s mother has been vocal in her criticism of his release. In a victim impact statement in November, she said that while she had forgiven Pistorius, she did not believe his version of events.

“At this time, I am not convinced that Oscar has been rehabilitated,” she said.

“Rehabilitation requires someone to engage honestly with the full truth of his crime and the consequences thereof. Nobody can claim to have remorse if they are not able to engage fully with the truth.

“If someone does not show remorse, they cannot be considered to be rehabilitated. If they are not rehabilitated, their risk of recidivism is high.”

She also raised concerns for the safety of other women once he was released on parole.

“I do not know to what extent this behavior still exists or was evident during his time of incarceration, but I am concerned for the safety of any woman should this not have been addressed in his rehabilitation.”

In her statement Friday, June Steenkamp described February 14, 2013, as “the day life changed forever”.

“Now, almost 11 years later, the pain is still raw and real, and my dear late husband Barry and I have never been able to come to terms with Reeva’s death, or the way she died,” she said.

She said the conditions imposed by the parole board on Pistorius include anger management courses and programs on gender-based violence.

The athlete – known as the “Blade Runner” for his carbon-fiber prosthetic legs – was once feted as an inspirational figure, having competed against able-bodied athletes in the Olympics in 2012.

He failed to win a medal, but Pistorius’ presence on the track was hailed as a triumph over adversity and a victory over critics who claimed his blades gave him an unfair advantage over others.

At his second court sentencing in 2016, the judge described him as a “fallen hero.”

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