S Africa suspends release of Oscar Pistorius
South Africa has put the release of Paralympian Oscar Pistorius on hold, saying a decision to free him on Friday after serving only 10 months in prison for killing his girlfriend had been premature.
Justice Minister Michael Masutha said in a surprise statement on Thursday that the June decision to allow Pistorius to serve out the remainder of his five-year sentence under house arrest had “no legal basis” and was suspended pending a parole board review.
The 28-year-old athlete was convicted in October of culpable homicide -- a charge equivalent to manslaughter -- over the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day in 2013, but prosecutors have appealed, seeking a murder conviction instead. On Thursday’s announcement comes on the very day Steenkamp, a model and law graduate, would have celebrated her 32nd birthday. “It is apparent... that the decision to release him on 21 August 2015 was made prematurely on 5 June 2015, when the offender was not eligible to be considered at all,” Masutha said in a statement.