Oscar Pistorius: South African ex-Paralympian seeks to force early prison release

Oscar Pistorius leaves court in 2016
Pistorius shot his girlfriend dead in 2013

Convicted murderer Oscar Pistorius is going to court to try to force South African authorities to hold a parole hearing for him.

The former Paralympic gold medallist is serving a 13-year sentence for killing his girlfriend in 2013.

Pistorius shot dead Reeva Steenkamp through a locked toilet door, claiming he mistook her for a burglar.

He is seeking an early release over a dispute about when his sentence started.

A series of challenges and rulings by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has led to confusion about when his sentence became effective.

Pistorius argues that he has already served enough time in prison to be eligible for parole, and therefore authorities should look at whether he can be released early.

In 2017, SCA said that Pistorius should serve 13 years and five months for the murder of Ms Steenkamp – overturning a previous, more lenient punishment of six years for murder.

Last year, the same court ruled that his current term should be backdated to October 2014, when he was initially sentenced for a lesser charge of culpable homicide.

Pistorius argues that this backdating means he became eligible for parole in February last year.

He wants Gauteng’s High Court to order the parole board to convene a hearing for him. If that request is granted, he wants the hearing to be within 30 days of the order saying so.

But Atteridgeville prison, where he is being held, says the court of appeal has given contradictory rulings.

The Department of Correctional Services also says it is seeking a court judgement to establish the date when his sentence effectively began.

Steenkamp’s murder on Valentine’s Day nine years ago shocked the country. In the televised trial, which gripped millions in South Africa and around the world, Pistorius pleaded that he had shot his girlfriend four times because he thought a burglar had entered his Pretoria home.

But a panel of appeal judges found that having armed himself with a deadly weapon, Pistorius should have foreseen that whoever was behind the toilet door might die, especially given his firearms training.

Rise and fall of Oscar Pistorius

  • August 2012: Competes in London Olympics and Paralympics, where he won a gold medal
  • February 2013: Shoots dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
  • March 2014: Trial begins
  • September 2014: Judge finds Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide
  • October 2014: Begins five-year sentence
  • October 2015: Transferred to house arrest
  • December 2015: Appeal court changes verdict to murder
  • July 2016: Sentenced to six years in jail for murder
  • November 2017: Sentence more than doubled to 13 years, five months