Decision to release Pistorious under review

South Africa justice minister overturns decision to release Paralympic gold medalist Oscar Pistorius who would have been transferred to house arrest

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

South African Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius listening to the verdict in his trial at the high court in Pretoria September 12, 2014.

Under a previous decision, Paralympic gold medalist Oscar Pistorius would have been transferred to house arrest after serving 10 months of a five-year sentence over a culpable homicide. South Africa’s justice minister says that won’t happen.

South Africa's parole review board has up to four months to conclude its decision on when Oscar Pistorius can be released from prison, a Justice Ministry spokesman said on Thursday.

Justice Minister Michael Masutha had blocked the proposed release on Wednesday because he said the decision was made without a legal basis. Masutha said that the parole board had wrongly taken a decision to release Pistorius on parole before the athlete had served a sixth of his sentence, as required by law.

"The review board has four months in which to conclude the matter," Justice Ministry spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga told Reuters.

"The minister cannot determine how they deal with the review as he merely referred the matter and leaves it to them to deal with it independently."

Judge Thokozile Masipa said during the sentencing that the state had failed to convince her of Pistorius' intent to kill when he fired. Prosecutors want the verdict of culpable homicide, equivalent to manslaughter, changed to murder because they argue Pistorius must have known when he fired that the person behind the door could be killed.

Paralympic gold medallist Pistorius, 28, was due to be released on house arrest on Friday after serving 10 months of a five-year sentence for killing his girlfriend, model and law graduate Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine's Day 2013.

The double amputee shot that killed Ms Steenkamp through a locked bathroom door at his Pretoria home, believing she was an intruder, he had told his trial.

Pistorius was born without the fibulas in both of his legs, and had surgery to amputate both below the knee while still a baby.

He went on to become one of South Africa's best-known sports stars, and was the first amputee sprinter to compete against able-bodied athletes, at the 2012 London Olympics.

TRTWorld and agencies