Oscar Pistorius up for parole eight years after murdering girlfriend

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Oscar Pistorius, the South African former Olympian convicted of murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, is up for parole after serving half of his 15-year sentence.

Pistorius, who shot Steenkamp multiple times at their home on Valentine's Day in 2013, and was convicted in 2015, has been up for parole since July and must go through the restorative justice process required by local law in order to be released.

Part of that process is making amends towards the family of his victim, and he has written, according to Steenkamp family lawyer Tania Koen, an unexpected letter that was "distressing" to the parents of Steenkamp.

Koen told The Mirror that the letter came as a shock to June and Barry Steenkamp, saying: "I cannot divulge the contents of that letter.

"It was quite emotionally distressing for them. They did not know it was coming and it was sent to me by his attorney."

While the family are prepared to meet with the former Paralympian as part of his parole process, they were said to be shocked to learn that he was up for release so soon, having originally been told it would not be before March of 2023.

The lawyer said: "What was also very upsetting was the disregard for their emotional wellbeing.

"They had to find out the parole board had already convened a date for parole and never advised them about it."

She added: "[It] opens a lot of wounds, or rips off the plasters they had put on those wounds."

The confusion over the date of parole stems from the nearly two years Pistorius spent in jail before his sentencing, with his lawyers putting in an appeal to count that toward his time served. As such, his parole date, which becomes active after half a sentence is served in South Africa, kicked in earlier than the Steenkamps expected.

While a face-to-face meeting is not a legal requirement for parole, the Steenkamps have always wanted to speak to Pistorius when the time came. Koen added: "Yes, they want to do that face to face.

"Barry has said for years he wants to meet Oscar and he has questions to ask. They are not emotionally prepared, but are prepared to meet Oscar.

"They accept the day will come when Oscar will be eligible for parole and they would give their input."

Julian Knight, a lawyer for Pistorius, said that a date for the parole hearing has not been set, but that he hoped it would be before the end of the year.

He added, according to the Associated Press: "From what I have observed of him he has been a model prisoner while he has been in prison.

"My view is that he does meet the requirements to be placed on parole but the procedures must be followed."