Oscar Pistorius early release put on hold
South Africa’s justice ministry has suspended the release of athlete, Oscar Pistorius from prison on Friday.
He said the decision to free the athlete after serving 10 months of his five-year sentence “was taken prematurely” and with “no legal basis”.
The decision has now been sent back to the parole board for review.
Pistorius was convicted of manslaughter last year for shooting dead his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, whom he says he mistook for an intruder.
It is not clear whether the decision on his early release could be reinstated before Friday, should the parole board meet to review its decision.
Under South African law, Pistorius is eligible for release under “correctional supervision”, having served a sixth of his sentence.
However, it is the timing of the decision which the justice ministry criticised:
“One sixth of a five year sentence is 10 months and at the time the decision was made Mr Pistorius had served only over six months of his sentence,” it said in a statement.
The justice ministry clarified that it only has the power to overturn decisions made by the parole review board in cases where the convict is serving a life sentence.
Pistorius was jailed for five years for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp, a charge equivalent to manslaughter.
Thursday would have been Ms Steenkamp’s 32nd birthday. Her parents held a small ceremony for her close friends and supporters in her hometown of Port Elizabeth, throwing roses into the sea in her memory.