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Oscar Pistorius is eligible for parole after serving half of his murder sentence, new documents say

by Andrew Wright
4 comments
Parole Eligibility

According to recent court documents, Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee Olympic and Paralympic runner, was found eligible for parole in March under South African law. However, he may have been wrongly denied early release from prison due to a miscalculation regarding the commencement of his murder sentence. Justice and correctional services authorities have submitted these documents to South Africa’s Constitutional Court, and they have stated that they will not oppose Pistorius’s appeal, arguing that he has served the required portion of his sentence and should be immediately considered for parole.

In South Africa, individuals sentenced to more than two years in prison must serve half of their sentence to become eligible for parole. Pistorius claims that he met this requirement when he attended a parole hearing on March 31. During that hearing, a parole board denied his early release and determined that he would not be eligible until August of the following year.

The new documents submitted to the Constitutional Court confirm that this was an error, and authorities now acknowledge that Pistorius had completed half of his sentence by March 21. These documents were presented by a senior parole board official on behalf of South Africa’s minister of justice, the commissioner of the corrections department, and parole and prison authorities.

This confusion traces back to Pistorius’s protracted and complex trial for the fatal shooting of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in February 2013. After multiple appeals, Pistorius was ultimately convicted of murder and sentenced to 13 years and five months in prison in 2017. However, this sentence reflected a deduction of the time he had already served between his initial conviction of manslaughter and his later murder conviction.

A crucial oversight occurred when determining the start date of Pistorius’s new sentence. Instead of commencing it from July 2016, the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that it should begin on November 24, 2017, the date of its final judgment. This oversight omitted the 16 months that Pistorius spent in jail during the appeals process.

Pistorius’s parole lawyer had previously pointed out this mistake in April, and the new court documents reaffirm this error. Despite the clarity of the error, the Supreme Court of Appeal has not yet issued a corrected judgment.

As a result, when parole board officials sought clarification regarding Pistorius’s sentence before his March parole hearing, they received a response from the Supreme Court clerk stating that there was no new judgment altering the dates. Consequently, the parole board ruled Pistorius ineligible for early release.

Pistorius is now appealing to South Africa’s Constitutional Court, seeking immediate eligibility for parole consideration. The Constitutional Court has yet to hear the appeal, and the court documents have been submitted as pre-hearing materials.

Even if Pistorius secures a new parole hearing, his release from the Atteridgeville Correctional Centre in Pretoria is uncertain. Parole boards weigh various factors, including input from the victim’s family, when considering early release. In this case, Reeva Steenkamp’s parents had opposed Pistorius’s parole in March, and Barry Steenkamp, her father, recently passed away at the age of 80, maintaining his stance that Pistorius should remain in prison.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Parole Eligibility

What is the key issue in Oscar Pistorius’s case?

Oscar Pistorius’s case centers around his eligibility for parole, which has been called into question due to a miscalculation in when he began serving his sentence for murder.

Why was Oscar Pistorius denied early release from prison?

Pistorius attended a parole hearing on March 31, but the parole board ruled that he was not eligible for early release until August of the following year, citing incomplete sentence time served.

What has been revealed in the new court documents?

New court documents submitted to South Africa’s Constitutional Court confirm that there was an error in calculating Pistorius’s sentence, and authorities now acknowledge that he had served half his sentence by March 21.

What was the source of the confusion in Pistorius’s case?

The confusion stems from Pistorius’s complex trial, multiple appeals, and a critical oversight in determining the start date of his new sentence after being convicted of murder.

What is Pistorius seeking through his appeal to the Constitutional Court?

Pistorius is appealing to the Constitutional Court to be declared immediately eligible for parole consideration based on the corrected calculation of his sentence.

Is Pistorius guaranteed release if he wins the appeal?

Even if Pistorius wins the appeal and gets a new parole hearing, his release is not certain. Parole boards consider various factors, including input from the victim’s family, when deciding on early release.

More about Parole Eligibility

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4 comments

CuriousCat November 24, 2023 - 10:15 pm

hope they resolve it soon, parole is a serious matter.

Reply
NewsHound November 24, 2023 - 11:45 pm

oscar’s parole, miscalculations, really messy trial!

Reply
InfoJunkie November 25, 2023 - 4:31 am

need more info on south african parole laws, link helps!

Reply
LegalEagle22 November 25, 2023 - 11:21 am

complex case, but justice needs to prevail, right?

Reply

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