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Oscar Pistorius: From Olympic fame to jail to freedom

Published on 15/10/2015

Oscar Pistorius, the South African double amputee sprinter who shot his girlfriend dead is set to be freed on parole on Tuesday, a year into a five-year sentence.

Here is a snapshot of the events that began on a fateful Valentine’s Day more than two years ago:

– 2013 –

February 14: South African police arrest Pistorius, a Paralympic and Olympic sprinter nicknamed the “Blade Runner”, for the killing of model Reeva Steenkamp, 29, shot four times with one of his guns at his Pretoria house.

February 15: Pistorius bursts into tears as he is charged, denying murder “in the strongest terms”.

February 19: Pistorius claims in an affidavit that he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder and feared that someone had sneaked into his home. He fired through a locked bathroom door in what prosecutors term a “premeditated” murder.

February 20: Police searching Pistorius’s home find testosterone and needles in a dresser in his bedroom. Testosterone is on the list of substances banned by the International Olympic Committee. Pistorius’s lawyers poke holes in the prosecution’s murder case, challenging flawed police work.

February 22: Pistorius is granted bail.

March 11: Pistorius is in deep mourning, but is “certainly not suicidal” his family says.

– 2014 –

February 14: As he marks one year since the shooting, Pistorius says he is consumed with “sorrow” in a message on the internet.

February 25: A judge rules that most of Pistorius’s trial can be broadcast live, but not his testimony.

March 3: The trial opens in Pretoria, before an army of journalists from around the world, with the testimony of a neighbour who tells the court she heard “terrible screams” from a woman and shots.

13: Pistorius vomits when a picture of the dead model’s body is flashed on the court’s television screens.

April 7-15: Pistorius takes the witness stand and begins with a tearful apology to Steenkamp’s family. This is followed by five days of often intense cross-examination, marked by several bouts of tears and breaks in the session. Pistorius steadfastly denies any intention to kill Steenkamp.

June 30: After a six-week break, a panel of three psychiatrists and a psychologist conclude that Pistorius was not suffering from mental illness.

September 12: Pistorius is found guilty of culpable homicide or manslaughter, but is cleared of murder.

October 21: Judge Thokozile Masipa sentences Pistorius to a maximum of five years in jail. He is immediately taken to Pretoria’s Kgosi Mampuru prison.

November 4: Prosecutors describe the sentence as “shockingly light and inappropriate” in appeal papers.

On December 10 the judge grants prosecutors leave to appeal against the conviction for culpable homicide rather than murder.

– 2015 –

June 8: Prison authorities say Pistorius is scheduled to be freed under house arrest on August 21.

August 17: Prosecutors file an appeal calling for Pistorius to be convicted of murder.

August 19: The justice ministry puts the decision to free Pistorius on hold saying it had “no legal basis” and had been suspended pending a parole board review.

September 27:Pistorius’ defence team submits its argument fighting a state bid to have Pistorius found guilty of murder.

October 5: Pistorius will have to undergo psychotherapy, the parole review board says, a day after delaying a decision on his release from prison.

October 15: Pistorius will be released on parole on October 20, the South African department of correctional services says.