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S. Africa Justice Dept Halts Release of Oscar Pistorius

  • VOA News

FILE - South African Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius attended his sentencing at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, October 21, 2014.

FILE - South African Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius attended his sentencing at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, October 21, 2014.

The release of Oscar Pistorius from a South African prison has been put on hold by the country's Justice Department.

The Paralympian was expected to be released Friday, less than a year into his five-year sentence for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. He was expected to complete the remainder of his prison term under house arrest.

Justice Department spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said a June decision to release Pistorius had no legal basis and would be postponed pending a later review by the parole board. The spokesman said the athlete should have only been considered for release after serving one-sixth of his jail sentence, or 10 months, but was considered at just eight months.

"It is apparent therefore 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,'' the department said in a statement.

Pistorius was convicted last September (Sept 12, 2014) of culpable homicide - roughly equivalent to the U.S. charge of manslaughter - for shooting Steenkamp at his home the previous February on Valentine's Day.

FILE - An undated portfolio photo supplied by Ice Model Management in Johannesburg of Oscar Pistorius' late girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, during a photo shoot.

FILE - An undated portfolio photo supplied by Ice Model Management in Johannesburg of Oscar Pistorius' late girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, during a photo shoot.

The athlete said he mistook Steenkamp for a nighttime intruder and shot her dead through a locked bathroom door because he feared for his life.

Pistorius is known as the "Blade Runner" for his carbon-fiber prosthetic legs. He became the first double-amputee to compete in the Olympics when he ran at the 2012 Games in London. He is a six-time gold medalist at the Paralympics.

The International Paralymic Committee said Pistorius would be banned from the Paralymics for his entire five-year prison term.

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