By Wendell Roelf, Anait Miridzhanian, and Siyabonga Sishi

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Former South African Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius, who was jailed for the 2016 murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, ​​was denied parole, South African prison authorities and a lawyer for the victim’s family said on Friday.

Once the darling of the Paralympic movement for more recognition and acceptance of disabled athletes, Pistorius shot Steenkamp, ​​a model and law student, in his bathroom on February 14 – Valentine’s Day – 2013.

Known as the “Blade Runner” for his carbon fiber prosthetic legs, the athlete went from public hero to convicted murderer in a trial that drew worldwide attention.

He was initially jailed for six years in 2016, but that sentence was increased to 13 years after prosecutors appealed, arguing it was too lenient.

The Department of Correctional Services said in a statement Friday that Pistorius, 36, had not served the minimum time required for parole.

“In August 2024 he would have served the minimum term, then the (parole) board will make a decision,” prison spokesman Singabakho Nxumalo said in a news conference.

“He has to come back next year. And then we look at the profile and make a decision on its placement.

Steenkamp’s family had opposed the offer, her lawyer Tania Koen told Reuters.

“I just got a call from the parole board. It’s a great relief for June,” she said, referring to Reeva’s mother.

June Steenkamp had previously said she was nervous when she arrived for the behind-closed-doors hearing at Atteridgeville Prison, near the capital Pretoria.

“While we welcome today’s decision, today is not a cause for celebration,” Koen said on behalf of Reeva’s parents. “We miss Reeva terribly and will do so for the rest of our lives. We believe in justice and hope it continues to prevail.”

Pistorius’ lawyer, Julian Knight, previously told Reuters that Pistorius was to appear before the parole board to answer questions based on Knight’s written submission pleading for his client’s release.

Knight had said he did not expect a decision on Friday. He was unavailable for comment after Pistorius was denied parole.

The basis for his argument for considering Pistorius parole was that “there do not appear to be any negative factors precluding his parole for meeting the department’s requirements regarding its policies and procedures”.

GUN ENTHUSIAST

Pistorius, who had both legs amputated as a baby, reached the pinnacle of fame in 2012 when he became the first double amputee to compete against able-bodied athletes at the Olympics, reaching the 400m semifinals in London.

A gun enthusiast, he told his trial he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder when he shot her through the bathroom door multiple times with ammunition aimed at inflicting maximum damage to the human body.

Pistorius shuffled through the Pretoria courthouse without his prosthesis to show how vulnerable he was to the threat of an intruder.

The athlete broke down in tears as he told the court he was trying to protect Steenkamp as he fired the shots. The prosecutor at the time accused him of using emotional breakdowns to avoid an interrogation.

He met Steenkamp’s father, Barry, last year when he was taking part in a process known as victim-offender dialogue – part of South Africa’s restorative justice programme, which brings together parties affected by a crime to bring about an end.

(Additional reporting by Nellie Peyton and Bhargav Acharya; Editing by James Macharia Chege, Alison Williams and Angus MacSwan)

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