Steenkamp parents criticise Oscar Pistorius verdict

Uncertainty over early release of paralympic athlete after justice minister blocks move

The parents of Reeva Steenkamp  have  criticised the verdict in the murder trial of South African athlete Oscar Pistorius. Photograph: Reuters

The parents of Reeva Steenkamp have criticised the verdict in the murder trial of South African athlete Oscar Pistorius. Photograph: Reuters

 

The parents of Reeva Steenkamp have for the first time criticised the verdict in the murder trial of South African athlete Oscar Pistorius.

“What actually came out in court is not the truth,” her father Barry Steenkamp told Australia’s Channel Seven TV.

There is uncertainty over Pistorius’ early release from prison, due last week, after South Africa’s justice minister blocked the move.

Prosecutors are seeking to overturn a South African court ruling that the athlete was not guilty of murder.

Pistorius (28) was found guilty last September of culpable homicide, the equivalent of manslaughter, after judge Thokozile Masipa said state prosecutors had failed to prove the Paralympic gold medallist had shown “intent” to kill.

The Olympic athlete admits shooting dead Ms Steenkamp, but insists he mistook her for an intruder.

He was jailed for five years in 2014 for culpable homicide, a charge equivalent to manslaughter.

The state argued throughout the six-month trial that Pistorius had deliberately killed Steenkamp when he fired four rounds through a locked toilet door where she was hiding after a row.

“Why didn’t he just let her walk away?” her mother June Steenkamp said, reiterating the family’s belief that Pistorius killed Ms Steenkamp deliberately.

“He got angry, she went off to the toilet, locked herself inside, and then him pulling out the gun and shooting,” Mr Steenkamp said.

Pistorius, nicknamed the “Blade Runner” because of the carbon-fibre prosthetics he used during his career on the track, was due to be released from prison last Friday after serving 10 months of his five-year sentence.

Justice minister Michael Masutha blocked the release because he said the decision was made without legal basis, an intervention the Pistorius family said left them “shocked and disappointed”.The decision has been returned to the parole board for reconsideration, which could take up to four months.

Steenkamp’s parents have said previously they were unhappy with the court’s sentencing but this is the first time they have publicly questioned the verdict.

If convicted of murder, Pistorius will likely be given a custodial sentence of at least 15 years.

Reuters