The release of Paralympian Oscar Pistorius has been put on hold, with South Africa saying a decision to free him after only 10 months in prison would be premature.
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 Wednesday, Justice Minister Michael Masutha said in a surprise statement that the 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.
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In a chilling coincidence, the announcement came on the very day Steenkamp, a model and law graduate, would have celebrated her 32nd birthday.
Pistorius will have served a sixth of his five-year sentence by Friday, making him eligible for early release under South African law.
But the justice minister said the early release decision should not have been taken before he had actually served out that 10-month period.