Pistorius family fury as his release delayed again

6th October 2015, Comments 0 comments

Oscar Pistorius's family on Tuesday accused South African officials of bowing to "political and media hype" after the star's release from prison was again delayed and he was ordered to undergo psychotherapy.

A parole review board on Monday decided that Pistorius should not yet be allowed out on house arrest despite qualifying for early release 10 months into his five-year sentence.

In a trial that made headlines around the world, he was jailed last year for killing his girlfriend, model and law graduate Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine's Day 2013.

He was found guilty of culpable homicide -- a charge equivalent to manslaughter -- after saying that he shot Steenkamp through a locked bathroom door because he mistook her for an intruder.

"The public, political and media hype that was allowed to develop around Oscar's trial has undermined his right to be treated like any other prisoner," his family said in a statement.

"We had put our trust in the... system, but are very disconcerted by the constant delays in obtaining clarity."

Pistorius was due to leave prison in August, 10 months after being incarcerated, until Justice Minister Michael Masutha made a last-minute intervention and the case was referred to the parole review panel.

Masutha said officials should only have begun considering him for parole on the day he was scheduled for release.

- Due process ignored? -

The intervention was widely criticised by legal experts, but on Monday the parole review board agreed the decision to release the athlete was made prematurely.

The review board also ordered Pistorius to undergo psychotherapy and recommended he should be put under firearm restrictions if granted parole.

Pistorius' family said he was already receiving "regular and ongoing psychotherapy" from psychologists and a social worker, whose reports were considered in the original decision to release him.

Pistorius may now still be behind bars on November 3, when prosecutors appeal to South Africa's supreme court for a murder conviction and a harsher sentence.

His trial revealed the world-famous athlete to have a volatile personality and a penchant for guns, beautiful women and fast cars.

He was accused of firing a gun through the sunroof of an ex-girlfriend's moving car in 2011 and, weeks before he shot Steenkamp, he accidentally discharged a gun at a Johannesburg restaurant.

In an interview with local television channel eNCA on Tuesday, Masutha insisted Pistorius had been treated like any other prisoner.

"Fairness in justice simply means upholding the rule of law and in this instance, that's what the law required," he said.

A champion Paralympian and once a poster boy for sport, Pistorius, known as the "Blade Runner" for the prosthetic legs he wore on the track, shot to fame when he raced against able-bodied competitors in the 2012 London Olympics.

Reeva Steenkamp's parents, who are convinced Pistorius murdered their daughter in a rage, have strongly opposed the athlete's possible parole.


© 2015 AFP

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