Paralympic athlete Pistorius will be released on parole

South Africa places amputee athlete Oscar Pistorius under house arrest after serving year in prison

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

South African Olympic and Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius leaves North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, in this September 12, 2014

Oscar Pistorius will be released on parole on Oct. 20, about a year into his five-year sentence for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, authorities said.

The department of correctional services said in a statement on Thursday the Olympic and Paralympic track star would be placed under house arrest from Tuesday.

Pistorius is behind bars in the capital, Pretoria, after being convicted in September last year at the end of a seven-month trial.

He was found guilty of culpable homicide, the equivalent of manslaughter, when he fired four shots through a locked toilet door on Feb. 14, 2013, killing model and law graduate Steenkamp.

Pistorius was due to have been freed on parole in August after serving 10 months but Justice Minister Michael Masutha blocked his release, saying the parole hearing had been held prematurely.

The department of correctional services said parole conditions would include him undergoing psychotherapy. Pistorius, a gun lover, will be subject to firearms prohibitions.

Tania Koen, a lawyer for the Steenkamp family which has opposed early parole, told state broadcaster SABC: "Nothing is changed in their lives. Reeva is not coming back."

At a globally televised trial Pistorius argued that he had mistaken Steenkamp for a burglar.

Prosecutors are appealing the verdict of culpable homicide, arguing it should be one of murder because Pistorius must have known that the person behind the door could be killed. The appeal is due to be heard on Nov. 3.

The state will argue that the trial judge misinterpreted parts of the law and ignored vital evidence. A murder conviction would result in a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison.

A panel of five judges will hear the appeal. They could either reject the prosecution's appeal, order a retrial or convict Pistorius of murder themselves, legal experts say.

The Paralympic gold medallist, known as "Blade Runner" because of his carbon-fibre prosthetic legs, became one of the biggest names in athletics at the 2012 Olympics when he reached the semi-finals of the 400-metre race against able-bodied athletes.