General: Steenkamps get apology from Pistorius lawyer

The lawyer for disgraced Paralympian Oscar Pistorius has publicly apologized to Reeva Steenkamp’s parents after potentially defamatory comments ascribed to him were published on a UK website. In the article published online in The Times, defence attorney Julian Knight allegedly claimed that June and Barry Steenkamp had unfairly stalled the victim-offender dialogue (VOD) process and deliberately frustrated the parole process, says a report in The Herald. In a letter addressed to the Steenkamps’ attorney, Tania Koen, Knight has apologized profusely and withdrawn the statement. In the article published on April 29, Knight is quoted saying it was the Steenkamps who had prolonged the VOD, which is one of the requirements set out by the Department of Correctional Services for an inmate to be considered for parole. ‘My client has been taken away from his support structures to accommodate the Steenkamps but has been met by one delay after another. The question can be asked whether this is being done to punish my client, to deliberately frustrate the parole process,’ Knight was quoted as saying at the time.

In November, Pistorius (35) was moved to Gqeberha, where the Steenkamps live, for the VOD process to be facilitated. In a letter sent to Knight dated 9 May, Koen said the Steenkamps were ‘shocked, surprised, and feel very insulted by the defamatory statements’, notes The Herald report. Koen said in the letter that Knight had three days to publicly apologize and withdraw the statements or further steps would be taken. In his reply, received by Koen on Wednesday, Knight said while he unconditionally apologized to the Steenkamps, the comments made were in response to the questions posed to him by the journalist. ‘Kindly note that in responding to the questions asked, there was no intention by the writer to defame or hurt your clients,’ Knight said. Knight said that if the Steenkamps wished not to take part in the VOD, ‘(Pistorius) does not wish to foist the process upon them’. Koen said the Steenkamps, and in particular Barry, still wished to take part in the VOD. ‘They are still willing to participate and to prepare for it, they want to speak to (Pistorius),’ Koen is quoted as saying.

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