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Oscar Pistorius to be released from jail to house arrest on Tuesday

JOHANNESBURG -- Oscar Pistorius, the Olympic runner who shot his girlfriend to death on Valentine's Day 2013, can leave prison and move to house arrest next week, South Africa's Department of Correctional Services said Thursday.

A parole board at the prison where Pistorius has served nearly a year of his five-year sentence for manslaughter made the decision. It came after an initial ruling to release the double-amputee athlete in August was canceled.

The board "approved the placement of offender Oscar Pistorius under correctional supervision as from 20 October 2015," the corrections department said in Thursday's statement.

Pistorius was acquitted of murder last year for the shooting death of Reeva Steenkamp, but prosecutors have appealed that decision and will seek a murder conviction again at South Africa's Supreme Court on Nov. 3.

If Pistorius is convicted of murder by a panel of judges at that appeal, he would face a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison, the minimum sentence for murder in South Africa, which no longer has the death penalty.

The spokeswoman for Pistorius' family, Anneliese Burgess, said in a text message that they had been informed of the decision to release Pistorius but would not be commenting further.

Steenkamp's parents are trying to "move on with their lives,'' their lawyer told the AP.

"Whether Oscar Pistorius remains incarcerated or is released, it's not going to change anything in their lives,'' lawyer Tania Koen said. "It makes no difference to them.''

But, "they still believe that 10 months or 12 months (in jail) is not enough for taking a life,'' Koen said.

The corrections department said the parole board made the decision after receiving a submission from Steenkamp's family.

Pistorius was sentenced to five years after being convicted of culpable homicide, a charge comparable to manslaughter, for shooting Steenkamp, a model and reality TV star. Under South African law, an offender sentenced to five years or less in jail can be released after serving one-sixth -- in Pistorius' case, 10 months.

He has maintained he thought she was an intruder in his home. Prosecutors said he shot her as she was in a bathroom stall in his Pretoria house during an argument.

Pistorius will now be moved to correctional supervision, a form of house arrest, where he will have to live under certain conditions for the next four years. His sentence ends on Oct. 20, 2019.

Pistorius has been informed of those conditions, the corrections department said, although it did not detail them all. It did say that Pistorius would have to continue receiving psychotherapy while under house arrest and would not be allowed to handle any firearms.

Correctional services department spokesman Manelisi Wolela did not rule out ultimately allowing Pistorius to return to training. He also said Pistorius would not be required to wear an electronic tagging device.

In June, the parole board cleared Pistorius to be released from Kgosi Mampuru II Prison in Pretoria on Aug. 21 only for that decision to be suspended by the minister of justice, who ordered a review.

A parole review board then sent Pistorius' case back to the same prison officials to reconsider.

The 28-year-old Pistorius will now be able to leave prison on Tuesday. He is expected to serve his house arrest at his uncle's home in an upmarket suburb of Pretoria.


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