Pistorius to be released from prison, moved to house arrest in days

Oscar Pistorius in 2013.

Oscar Pistorius in 2013.  (REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko)

A parole board decided Thursday to release "Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorius from prison, deciding that the convicted killer can be moved to house arrest on Oct. 20.

The decision comes a year after he was found guilty of culpable homicide, South Africa's equivalent to manslaughter, for the killing of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, who was a model and law graduate.

Pistorius will be moved to correctional supervision, a form of house arrest where he will have to live under certain conditions, at his uncle’s mansion.

Full details of the conditions were not detailed by the corrections department, although it did say that Pistorius would have to continue receiving psychotherapy while under house arrest and would not be allowed to possess a firearm. Correctional services department spokesman Manelisi Wolela said Pistorius would not be required to wear an electronic tagging device.

Pistorius has been informed of those conditions, the corrections department said.

The spokeswoman for Pistorius' family, Anneliese Burgess, said in a text message to the Associated Press that they had been informed of the decision to release Pistorius but would not be commenting further.

Steenkamp's father, Barry Steenkamp, told The AP last week that he wanted the delays and uncertainty around Pistorius' release to end.

"I'm sure a lot of people have had enough of the whole scenario. That's all I can say. Let justice take its course," he said.

A South African judge sentenced Pistorius, 28, to a maximum of five years, of which he's served nearly a year. His sentence ends on Oct. 20, 2019.

The sentence for a culpable homicide conviction is at the judge's discretion, and can range from a suspended sentence and a fine to up to a maximum of 15 years in prison.

Under South African law, an offender sentenced to five years or less in jail can be released after serving one-sixth, or in Pistorius' case, 10 months.

Steenkamp died when Pistorius fired four 9-mm. shots through a locked toilet door at his home in the early hours of Valentine's Day 2013.

The double-amputee Olympian had claimed he mistook her for an intruder. But prosecutors claimed the couple instead had an argument and Steenkamp fled to the bathroom before Pistorius killed her.

He was cleared of murder after Judge Thokozile Masipa said there was a lack of evidence to support prosecutors' claims.

Some legal analysts said they understood why Pistorius was found not guilty of premeditated murder, but were surprised that the runner was not convicted of murder.

"We believe there is sufficient and credible evidence to secure a conviction" on a murder charge, said Nathi Mncube, spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority. He said, however, that any decision to appeal the judge's ruling would come after the case is "concluded" with sentencing.

Pistorius, known as "Blade Runner" for his carbon-fiber running blades, gained worldwide fame when he ran against able-bodied athletes at the 2012 London Olympics, the first amputee runner to compete at the games.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.