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Crime News

Oscar Pistorius Is Eligible For Parole But He Must First Meet With The Parents Of The Girlfriend He Murdered

Oscar Pistorius became a international superstar after making history at the 2012 Olympics. One year later, he fatally shot his girlfriend, and now her parents could help determine if he's granted parole.  

By Constance Johnson
Oscar Pistorius stands during his bail application in 2013

Six years after he was convicted of murdering his girlfriend, South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius could soon be eligible for parole, but he must first meet with her parents, according to the Associated Press.

Just one year after competing in the 2012 Olympics, Pistorius, a double amputee, made international headlines for shooting Reva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day in the home they shared in Pretoria.

Pistorius claimed that he thought the model was an intruder, but the prosecution maintained that athlete knew who he was shooting and was angry after an argument.

He was initially convicted of culpable homicide, the American equivalent to manslaughter, and sentenced to five years. That was later changed to a murder conviction on appeal, and Pistorius was eventually sentenced to 13 years and five months in prison, according to the BBC.

Under South African law, he’s eligible for release after serving half of that sentence.

Reeva Steenkamp and Oscar Pistorius smile together in white shirts

But first Pistorius, 34, must take part in what’s called “restorative justice,” according to the BBC.

Offenders must "acknowledge and take responsibility for their actions," according to a statement from the South African Department of Corrections obtained by the BBC.

The department is talking with Steenkamp’s parents about arranging a meeting.

The Steenkamps' lawyer Tania Koen told South African news outlet SABC in a video posted on Saturday that they "would like to participate in the victim-offender dialogue".

"June [Steenkamp, Reeva's mother] has always said that she has forgiven Oscar, however that doesn't mean that he mustn't pay for what he has done. ... Barry [Steenkamp, Reeva's father] battles with that a bit, but that is something he will have to voice at the appropriate time," Koen told the network. "The wound, even though so much time has passed, is still very raw."

Koen said that the Steenkamps thought Pistorius was not eligible for parole until March of 2023. She said they were “very shocked and quite taken aback" that he was already eligible, according to the station.

The Steenkamps will be allowed to make a recommendation to the parole board, but Koen would not reveal if they planned to oppose, his release, according to AP.

"They (Barry and June) feel that Reeva has got a voice. They are Reeva's voice, and they owe it to their beloved daughter," Koen said.

Oscar Pistorius runs a race during the 2012 Paralympic Games

Pistorius had a parole hearing scheduled in October, but it was canceled, in part, because a meeting between Pistorius and the Steenkamps had not been held, attorneys for both parties confirmed to AP.

Julian Knight an attorney for Pistorius told AP that another reason that the parole hearing was canceled was that a full report on his time in prison was not available.

He said Pistorius has meant the requirements for release.

"From what I have observed of him he has been a model prisoner while he has been in prison," Knight said. "My view is that he does meet the requirements to be placed on parole, but the procedures must be followed."

Pistorius gained fame as a Paralympic gold medalist. He rose to even bigger heights, after making history in 2012 as the first amputee sprinter to compete at the Olympics running on prosthetic blades.