Athletics

Oscar Pistorius seeks release, begs late girlfriend’s family

South African Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius attends his sentencing at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria October 21, 2014. Pistorius arrived at the Pretoria High Court on Tuesday for sentencing over the killing of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, last year. REUTERS/Herman Verwey/Pool (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT ATHLETICS CRIME LAW)

Jailed Oscar Pistorius has sent an ’emotionally distressing’ letter to the parents of his murdered girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in a move which their lawyer described as ‘like ripping a Band-Aid off a wound’

Pistorius, 34, has been eligible for parole since July after he was convicted of murder for shooting model Ms Steenkamp multiple times through a toilet door at his home in Pretoria, South Africa, on Valentine’s Day 2013.

The Paralympic gold medalist sent her parents June and Barry Steenkamp a letter as part of South Africa’s restorative justice’ parole process whereby prisoners must take responsibility for their actions.

Their lawyer, Tania Koen, told the Mirror: ‘I cannot divulge the contents of that letter.

‘It was quite emotionally distressing for them. They did not know it was coming and it was sent to me by his attorney.’

The attorney also said that the parents were upset to learn that Pistorius has been eligible for parole since July when they had been told he would not be released from prison until March 2023.

A parole hearing had been scheduled for last month but it was cancelled, partly because a meeting between Pistorius and Steenkamp’s parents had not been arranged. The date for a new hearing has not yet been set.

Pistorius, who has served half of his 13-year sentence after being convicted of murder in 2015, must also meet June and Barry before he is considered for release.

The Steenkamps want a face-to-face meeting with Pistorius, as is their right under South Africa’s victim-offender dialogue policy.

They have previously said they want to challenge Pistorius on why he shot their daughter and they would get to do that, with victim-offender meetings aimed at achieving some kind of closure for families of victims of crimes. Ms Koen told the Mirror: ‘Yes, they want to do that face to face.

‘Barry has said for years he wants to meet Oscar and he has questions to ask. They are not emotionally prepared but are prepared to meet Oscar.

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