JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s parole review board on Monday delayed the release of Paralympic gold medallist Oscar Pistorius from prison, where he is serving a sentence for killing his girlfriend, setting aside a previous decision to free the athlete.
The board upheld a decision by South Africa’s Justice Minister Michael Masutha who had intervened in plans for his release, saying the law required the athlete to have served a sixth of his sentence before his parole could be considered.
Pistorius was due to have been released to house arrest in August after serving 10 months of a five-year sentence. His parole hearing was conducted before he had served six months.
The head of the Parole Review Board, Judge Lucy Mailula, concurred with the concerns raised by Masutha, that the parole board had “made the decision prematurely”.
A spokeswoman for the Pistorius family, Annelise Burgess, said the family could not comment as it had not yet received official word from the parole review board.
“We have been unofficially informed of the decision of the parole review board and we are considering our options until we receive the official communication from the board,” she said.
It was not immediately clear when a new parole hearing would be held.
Pistorius was found guilty in September 2014 of culpable homicide, the equivalent of manslaughter, after he fired four 9mm shots through a locked toilet door in 2013 killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day.
At a globally televised trial he argued that he had mistaken Steenkamp for a burglar.
Prosecutors are appealing the verdict, arguing it should be murder because Pistorius must have known that the person behind the door could be killed. The appeal is due to be heard on Nov. 3.
A panel of five judges will hear the appeal. The judges could either reject the prosecution’s appeal, order a retrial or convict Pistorius of murder themselves, legal experts say.
(Writing by James Macharia; Editing by Richard Balmforth)