Pistorius lawyer eyes ‘immediate release’ if parole granted

Lawyers for Oscar Pistorius said on Wednesday they hope the former South African Paralympic champion who was convicted of murdering his girlfriend a decade ago will be released immediately if granted parole later this week.

Pistorius, 37, will appear before a parole board at a correctional centre outside Pretoria where he is currently detained on Friday.

Asked whether the hope was for the ex-athlete to be home for Christmas, Pistorius’ lawyer Conrad Dormehl, told AFP that “the best-case scenario” was “an immediate release” on Friday.

“An immediate placement on parole would be the best-case scenario, which would obviously be before Christmas,” Dormehl said.

Legal experts and a lawyer for the victim’s family have previously told AFP that, normally, it can take weeks before a prisoner who is granted parole is effectively discharged from jail.

Pistorius lost a first bid for parole in March, when a board found he had not completed the minimum detention period required to be let out.

But the Constitutional Court last month ruled that was a mistake, paving the way for a new hearing.

South Africa’s Department of Correctional Services (DCS) normally follows a “one-month policy”, allowing 30 days for prisoners to complete a pre-release programme before letting them out, said Nicole van Zyl, a law researcher at University of the Western Cape.

An earlier date could be set if authorities were to take into consideration the delay caused by the error previously made in calculating Pistorius’ minimum detention period and the public scrutiny that followed, she said.

An immediate release was thus “not impossible”, said Dormehl.

“We are hoping that the parole board can come to a swift resolution of the matter,” he said.

Pistorius killed Reeva Steenkamp, a model, in the early hours of Valentine’s Day 2013, firing four times through the bathroom door of his ultra-secure Pretoria house, in a killing that shocked the world.

Known worldwide as the “Blade Runner” for his carbon-fibre prosthetics, Pistorius was found guilty of murder and given a 13-year jail sentence in 2017 after a lengthy trial and several appeals.

He had pleaded not guilty and denied killing Steenkamp in a rage, saying he mistook her for a burglar.

A year before the killing, Pistorius became the first double-amputee to race in the Olympics, competing at the 2012 London Games.

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