Oscar Pistorius has spent the first day out of prison at his uncle's home in Pretoria. The Paralympics gold medalist convicted of killing his girlfriend was earlier transferred to house arrest by South African officials.
The celebrity athlete was due to leave prison on Tuesday, but South African authorities confirmed late Monday that he had already been shifted to his uncle's house to avoid the media attention.
The 28-year-old Paralympian sprinter had already spent one year in prison for shooting dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in February 2013. Pistorius will serve the remaining four years of his culpable homicide sentence under house arrest.
Pistorius' family welcomed his release from prison and said the athlete would abide by the house arrest conditions.
"The family is happy that Oscar is home but they want to make the point that Oscar's sentence continues," Pistorius' family spokeswoman Anneliese Burgess said Tuesday.
"His sentence hasn't been shortened or reduced, he continues to serve his sentence," she said, adding that Pistorius "will strictly adhere to the conditions set by the parole board."
The conditions include getting involved in community service, supporting himself economically, and not consuming alcohol or owning a gun.
The verdict could be changed
Pistorius was found guilty by a jury on October 21 last year of culpable homicide - a charge equivalent to manslaughter - after a trial that lasted more than seven months and attracted global attention.
He shot Steenkamp four times through a locked toilet door at his home in Pretoria in the early hours of Valentine's Day 2013. She was pronounced dead at the scene. But Pistorius claimed he thought she was an intruder.
The Steenkamp family maintains that he intentionally killed her.
South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeals will hear arguments from the state next month on whether the verdict should be changed from culpable homicide to murder.
Prosecutors will argue that Judge Thokozile Masipa misinterpreted the law when she found that the athlete who found fame in the 2012 Olympic Games had not deliberately shot Steenkamp.
If the appeals court rules against Pistorius, he could return to his prison cell at Pretoria's Kgosi Mampuru II prison for a minimum of 15 years.
Reeva Steenkamp's family is "still dealing with her loss," according to Tania Koen, a lawyer representing the family.
"They feel that his release from prison makes no difference, as it won't bring back their child," the lawyer told the AFP news agency, adding that the Steenkamps were prepared for Pistorius' release.
Koen said that Reeva's parents - June and Barry Steenkamp - had no intention of meeting Pistorius.
"If anything happens, it will have to be after the appeal of proceedings, once they are finalized. Right now they are focused on healing," she said.
shs/msh (AFP, dpa)