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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Olympian Oscar Pistorius denied parole 10 years after murdering girlfriend

Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius hands his mobile phone to his brother Carl after sentencing on July 6, 2016, at the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa.  (Getty Images)
By Lesley Wroughton Washington Post

CAPE TOWN, South Africa – South African Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee athlete who captured world attention by running in the 2012 Olympics on blade-like prosthetic legs, was denied parole Friday from his prison sentence for killing his girlfriend.

A statement by the Department of Correctional Services said that parole was denied because Pistorius, 36, has not completed his minimum prison sentence and that the parole board would again review his case in August 2024.

The case generated headlines worldwide when Pistorius was accused of shooting model Reeva Steenkamp at his home on Valentine’s Day 2013. In a televised trial in 2014, he was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to five years in prison.

An appeals court in 2017 overruled the initial sentence and determined that Pistorius was guilty of murder and increased the prison time to 13 years and five months.

The parole board’s hearing on Friday was held behind closed doors at the Atteridgeville prison near Pretoria.

“The parole board’s decision is guided by a clarification order from the Supreme Court that stated that Mr. Pistorius has not reached the minimum detention period,” department spokesman Singabakho Nxumalo told reporters. “He will have to appear again next year.”

Later, a clarification issued by the prison authorities said Pistorius’s sentence was effective from Nov. 24, 2017, when the appeals court handed down the extended sentence.

It was not immediately clear why the parole board agreed to consider Pistorius’s case now when he had not completed half of his sentence, a requirement for parole under South African law.

Pistorius’s attorney, Julian Knight, was not immediately available to comment.

“He has done his time,” he told The Washington Post before the decision. “He has met the Department of Correctional Services policy and guidelines for parole.”

Pistorius met with Steenkamp’s father, Barry, last year as part of a program known as victim-offender dialogue, which occurs before a prisoner can be considered for parole. Steenkamp’s parents oppose his early release.

“We don’t believe his story,” June Steenkamp, Reeva’s mother, told reporters as she arrived for Friday’s hearing.

According to guidelines provided by the Department of Correctional Services, the parole board has to determine whether releasing Pistorius poses a danger to the community and whether he is at risk of committing another crime.

At the trial, prosecutors said Pistorius killed Steenkamp in a fit of anger after an argument by firing four bullets into a locked bathroom door with his 9mm pistol. Pistorius said that the shooting was a tragic accident and that he had mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder.

A year before the shooting, Pistorius made history by competing on his carbon-fiber “Flex-Foot Cheetah” blades against able-bodied athletes at the 2012 London Olympics, earning him the name “Blade Runner.”